House Crowd on the hunt for sites as Altrincham start nears

The Hale-based crowdfunder is set to kick off a £15m project in the centre of Altrincham this summer and has its eye on more sites across Greater Manchester and Cheshire, its development director has told Place North West.

The company’s development arm, headed up by director Justin Molloy, is looking to start on site this summer on a 40-home project off The Downs in the centre of Altrincham, after purchasing two sites including the former Nick’s pub.

Designed by Calderpeel, which is currently working up construction drawings for the scheme, the development is a mix of 31 apartments and eight townhouses as well as a commercial unit in the former pub.

Speaking to Place North West, Molloy said the scheme was typical of the House Crowd’s projects; having bought part of the site with planning permission, the developer looked to “up the specification” of what was on offer to bring it to site.

“We want to provide quality family housing with a better-than-average specification. Every scheme we buy with planning consent will be looked at again with the idea that, if I was living in that house, what would my life look like and how would I use that space?” he said.

“In order to be competitive in the market and provide security for investors we need to have something that has the value of planning. We’re not in the business of land improvement, but in the business of consent improvement. The risk and reward involved with land enhancement is great but it’s not something we want to be involved with.”

The developer is active across the North West stretching from the likes of Heywood and Mossley down through Stockport, Altrincham, and into Cheshire in Wilmslow, Chester, Crewe, and Frodsham. Project currently on site include an £11m development in Oldham, being delivered by CPUK.

The company typically supports its developments through its crowdfunding platform, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Investors can provide from £1,000 and upwards in an individual scheme; for its development arm, investors can loan money to allow the House Crowd to build and sell new properties.

House Crowd Fox Owl Rise Oldham

The developer’s £11m project in Oldham

It is also active in the centre of Manchester where it has purchased Chapel Walks off Cross Street, where it plans to deliver apartments in the 12,700 sq ft former office. It bought the site from Chancerygate earlier this year.

“Predominately we’re looking at sub-£600,000, everything registered at help-to-buy, and looking at affordable locations where there is clear demand, providing houses for people, funded by people,” said Molloy.

The developer is looking for more sites, with these typically ranging between 10 homes up to 54, although Molloy added there was “capacity and comfort level for up to 75 homes”.

The House Crowd works with an established team including architect Calderpeel and employers’ agent Edmond Shipway on most of its schemes, which typically are available for Help-to-Buy with prices between £200,000 and £450,000; exceptions include Altrincham and Wilmslow where the product is likely to be more high-end.

However, Molloy emphasised the company’s approach was not “land improvement” and called for changes to the planning system to make both private-sale and affordable more deliverable.

“I’d like to see a greater emphasis on the way that planning is sought; it’s too easy to get an outline consent that isn’t deliverable, and when you go back to see what can actually be delivered, you’re starting from fresh,” he said.

“Quite often, things that have been agreed by a landowner don’t make commercial sense for a developer, down to things like viability and expectations for social housing, which we want to deliver in spades, but ultimately it’s got to work for everybody.

“I would advocate a system whereby you had to go for a detailed consent, something that’s tested commercially, that the viability studies are done on, that then drives the affordable element, and everything is parcelled up so the local authority as much as anybody else, know that a plot of land that they’ve consented will be delivered: there will be a 106 agreement, there will be CIL, there will be affordable, we’ve tested it, and it works.”

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Wilmslow and Altrincham need affordable housing too. My sons have had to buy elsewhere. Also I am going to have to leave Wilmslow when I downsize.

By Sally

Sally the reason Wilmslow and Altrincham are seen as nice areas is because only certain people can afford to live there, providing affordable housing brings these areas down. If anyhting affordable hosuing should be built in areas people want to move away from. This will discourage workshyness.

By Mac

Mac that’s a somewhat blinkered view of affordable housing and rather missing the ramifications of the ‘housing crisis’ in general. Being unable to afford 280k for a 2 bed terrace doesn’t make you ‘workshy’, many people aren’t fortunate enough to benefit from wealthy families who can provide them with a 30k deposit to secure properties in these areas. Affordable housing is also taken by teachers, nurses, young professionals in need of a leg up, all of whom support local communities, not just the social groups you seem to be hinting at. Its also a policy requirement.

By 4thought

4thought is right. I know a qualified Teacher and a qualified pharmacist who have had to move from their rented place in Altrincham to Northwich because they couldn’t afford to buy in Altrincham. They both work in Manchester.

By Elephant

If those people can’t afford to live there then they need to live somewhere else, simple as.

By Mac

I think Mac that these nice areas need professional, educated people to make them thrive. Or do we want Greater Manchester’s better areas to resemble The Only Way is Essex, which frankly they now do.

By Elephant

have we not got the issue that in places that aren’t that great people who are doing well tend to move out if they can afford to. The place would improve if people chose to or had reason to stay. so those people help elevate and bring on that area.

By Lizzy Baggot

If you can not afford to pay rent or buy a house — umm — take your family and live under a bridge somewhere — until the police tell you to move. Marketism is essentially a simple theory as practically useless as Marxism was. But just like Marxists, the Marketists are blind to facts. Northern European countires have had social-market not free-market town planning for over half a century and are very happy with that. But why should we put round wheels on our car, just because they do, when our Marketist theory proves square wheels are better? Has Manchester/Salford been made a mess? Well stop doing what you are doing, and do something else

By James Yates

The average price of housing in the U.K. is disconnected from average wages – I thought that was obvious given the inflation in house prices far in excess of wages and the increase in both mortgage-to-earnings and loan-to-value ratios in recent years.

The value of housing instead reflects the flows of global investor capital into the land and property markets and has nothing, repeat NOTHING to do with whether someone is ‘deserving’ of living in a high value area or not.

It’s truly depressing to read comments like Mac’s reflecting the state of a country in which ones income or the area in which one lives still seems to be seen as a barometer of status. This country is clearly still riven with class snobbery which only serves to exacerbate inequalities and entrench disadvantage.

By Snob Watch

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