JV North uses early start incentive

Five landlords working in a procurement consortium have brought forward building of 331 new homes in the North West in order to release 75% of Affordable Homes funding from the Homes & Communities Agency.

The HCA awarded 75% of grant for successful schemes upfront if they started on site before the end of March rather than waiting for payment on completion.

JV North consortium members New Charter Housing Trust, AKSA Homes, Trafford Housing Trust, Helena Partnerships and Parkway Green Housing Trust are able to get receive £5.7m of HCA payments out of the £7.6m allocated to build the first phase of homes. JV North is developing 905 new homes in the next four years thanks with a £20m HCA grant in total.

Consortium members are putting £84.3m towards the projects taking the total Affordable Homes programme expenditure to £104.3m. Of the 905 homes, 744 will be made available at affordable rent rates, capped at 80% of market value, and 161 will be shared ownership units.

Rob Young, chief executive of Helena Partnerships and chairman of JV North, said: "Originally, the affordable homes programme funding was conceived as a payment-on-delivery model but JV North has capitalised on the opportunity to bring schemes forward into this financial year.

"It means three-quarters of the funding we need to build the 331 homes has been paid in advance and it has significant implications on landlords' cash flow and balance sheets.

"JV North is of the view that the sooner we can start addressing the housing shortage in the North West the better and some of the schemes, such as Parkway Green Housing Trust's, are also tackling under-occupancy issues."

Helena Partnerships is on site in St Helens and Warrington building 59 units comprising of 42 houses and 17 apartments; 41 units will be offered at affordable rent and 18 as shared ownership. Bramall Construction will develop 34 and Mulbury Homes 25.

New Charter Housing Trust is delivering 25 apartments and 73 houses through Seddon Construction while AKSA Homes is producing 18 properties through Wiggett Construction at two different sites including the landlords' first development of social housing in Saddleworth.

Trafford Housing Trust has two schemes comprising of 55 homes and 33 apartments that are being developed by Wiggett Construction and Cruden Construction. Both developments are due to be completed within a year and available for rent and shared ownership.

Contractor Lovell is building Parkway Green Housing Trust's 68 units that feature 44 two, three and four-bed homes, 16 two-bed apartments and eight bungalows. The homes will be made available at affordable rent levels with the apartments and bungalows offered at social housing rates to tenants currently under-occupying larger family-sized properties. The work is split into three phases and will be completed by September 2013.

A further 234 units are forecast to be on-site by December 2012. JV North was formed in 2007 by a group of housing associations, mainly large-scale stock transfers, based in the North West. The £20m HCA grant will be distributed to JV North members using a pro-rata formula based on the number of homes being built.

The initial Affordable Homes programme runs for four years from 2011 to 2015.

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