Brad­ford rein­vents the coun­cil house for new era

The first coun­cil houses for 30 years have been built by for­ward-think­ing Brad­ford, which has more planned for the city, Bin­g­ley and Ilk­ley. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

THE homes for heroes that Bri­tain clam­oured for af­ter the war be­came the very op­po­site of des res.

The term coun­cil house was soon to be associated with sub­stan­dard con­struc­tion and sink es­tates and in 1980, the Thatcher gov­ern­ment ef­fec­tively pre­vented lo­cal authorities from build­ing them al­to­gether, while giv­ing ten­ants the right to buy ex­ist­ing stock.

Re­cent leg­is­la­tion paved the way for coun­cils to start build­ing again and one of the first to take up the chal­lenge was Brad­ford.

The mo­ti­va­tion to in­vest in bricks and mor­tar came af­ter the credit crunch killed off a raft of pro­posed pri­vate de­vel­op­ments. A se­vere short­age of hous­ing was pre­dicted.

Al­though hous­ing as­so­ci­a­tions took up where coun­cils left off in the 1980s there was still a lack of affordable homes to rent. A steady stream of prop­er­ties from de­vel­op­ers, who were forced to pro­vide a pro­por­tion of so­cial hous­ing in larger schemes, dried up as builders failed to find fund­ing for sites that still lie fal­low.

David Shep­herd, as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of re­gen­er­a­tion and cul­ture at Brad­ford City Coun­cil, says: “There was al­ready a na­tion­wide short­age of affordable hous­ing and we could see that sit­u­a­tion get­ting worse thanks to the credit crunch and the fact that Brad­ford has a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion. Bank fund­ing just wasn’t avail­able for pri­vate de­vel­op­ers or hous­ing as­so­ci­a­tions. We knew this hap­pen­ing be­cause the num­ber of plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions dipped and sites that had plan­ning weren’t be­ing built on. That’s why we de­cided to step in to the breach.”

Sta­tis­tics back this de­ci­sion up. In 2008, there were 2,100 homes built in the Brad­ford area and last year there were just 600.

The coun­cil also hoped to boost in­vestor con­fi­dence in the city by prov­ing that there was a big rental de­mand for new homes. So they iden­ti­fied land they owned in Bowl­ing and with a grant from the Homes and Com­mu­ni­ties Agency and a “mort­gage” from the pub­lic sec­tor loans board they laid the foun­da­tions of a bright new era for coun­cil hous­ing.

Work has just fin­ished on the 45 eco-friendly town­houses at Pavil­ion Gar­dens, de­signed by Ship­ley-based ar­chi­tects Hal­l­i­day Clark, and they couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent from old-style coun­cil homes.

They are tim­ber framed with tra­di­tional stone-clad ex­te­ri­ors but they boast the lat­est en­er­gysav­ing and gen­er­at­ing fea­tures, in­clud­ing su­per in­su­la­tion, photo voltaic roof tiles, triple glaz­ing, rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing, a biomass boiler and air source heat pumps. Twelve have reached a rare Code 6 sus­tain­able hous­ing rat­ing, while the rest are Code 4.

In­side, they are con­tem­po­rary and de­signed to be adapt­able, life­time homes, with plumb­ing and space to con­vert the down­stairs cloak­room into a shower room for those with mo­bil­ity prob­lems. One bed­room is wired to be used as an of­fice for home work­ers.

Longevity was one of the key in­gre­di­ents in the con­struc­tion and fit out.

“Qual­ity was crit­i­cal. We also cre­ated large rooms, stor­age ar­eas and we in­vested in re­ally good work sur­faces and kitchen cup­boards,” says David.

The houses are all for rent on se­cure tenures through so­cial hous­ing provider York­shire Hous­ing, which is man­ag­ing the prop­er­ties. De­mand is high and the suc­cess has spurred the coun­cil on to more am­bi­tious plans.

Con­struc­tion has just started on an­other 90 prop­er­ties in the Bowl­ing area of Brad­ford and the coun­cil has just won HCA fund­ing for three more de­vel­op­ments.

These in­clude 40 houses in the Gil­stead area of Bin­g­ley and 100 homes split be­tween the old mid­dle school site in Ilk­ley and Moor Court in Ben Rhy­d­ding. Work is due to be­gin later next year.

The fund­ing model for the new de­vel­op­ments will be dif­fer­ent as money will be raised from sell­ing some of the prop­er­ties on the open mar­ket.

Be­tween a third and half of the houses will be for sale. This will not only gen­er­ate work­ing cap­i­tal, it will en­sure that the so­cial make up of the site is bal­anced.

“It stacks up fi­nan­cially though we aren’t look­ing to make a profit. The in­come we get from the prop­er­ties is enough to ser­vice the debt and that should be cleared com­pletely in 30 years,” says David.

How long the coun­cil con­tin­ues to build de­pends largely on the econ­omy. Once de­vel­op­ers and hous­ing as­so­ci­a­tions be­gin to de­velop more sites, there may no longer be a need for coun­cil hous­ing. For now though, ev­ery­one ap­pears to be a win­ner.

“We’re see­ing more de­vel­op­ers and in­vestors show­ing an in­ter­est in Brad­ford.

“The first site has cre­ated con­fi­dence be­cause we’ve shown it is fi­nan­cially vi­able to build sus­tain­able homes for rent,” says David.

“We’ve also cre­ated em­ploy­ment for lo­cal peo­ple and busi­nesses.”

MEET­ING DE­MAND: New style eco coun­cil hous­ing de­signed by Hal­l­i­day Clark for Brad­ford Coun­cil to meet the de­mand for homes.

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