Manchester housing company set for final sign-off

The city council expects to gain approval on Wednesday to set up a company to deliver at least 500 homes each year until 2025, including affordable and private tenure units, and reduce the budget for projects such as the Town Hall refurbishment.

The proposal for a council-owned housebuilder was agreed in principle by Manchester’s executive committee in March, with the aim of helping the council meet its affordable homes delivery target by 2025. This week, the committee is to give its final stamp of approval on the plans before the finer details are worked out.

Manchester City Council previously committed to delivering at least 6,400 affordable homes between 2015 and 2025, representing 20% of its overall housing target of 32,000 homes over the same period.

Since 2015, 13,259 homes have been completed in the city. However, the council is concerned it will fall behind on its target without further interventions. The proposed company would have the potential to deliver 2,000 homes up to 2025, representing 500 each year since 2015, including pipeline or in-construction units.

The new homes would be a mix of affordable and market homes, with the latter helping to subsidise the affordable units. The company would also enable the council to invest in land and utilise receipts from the Right to Buy policy.

Following approval, a report outlining the delivery model for the company – whether it would be wholly council-owned or a joint venture – will be produced for discussion by the committee in the coming months.

Cllr Suzanne Richards, Manchester City Council’s executive member for housing and regeneration, said: “Bringing an element of affordable housing development in-house will help us meet the housing needs of Manchester people using our own land and with a clear focus on sustainable, low-cost, zero-carbon housing.”

The committee is to discuss other property-related proposals at the meeting on Wednesday. These include to push back until future financial periods the £6.2m set aside to acquire plots of land for the Northern Gateway regeneration scheme while negotiations with landowners remain ongoing, and earmark £13.1m to fund the planned acquisition of land at Hyde Road, expected before the end of this year.

Annual budgets have been squeezed for projects including The Factory arts complex, to £30.1m compared to £55.3m set in February, and the refurbishment of Manchester Town Hall to £17m from £24.4m, to reflect revised construction timelines due to Covid-19, according to documents published ahead of the meeting.

Work resumed on site at the town hall on 15 April following a two-week hiatus at the start of lockdown.

The council also said it has approved a business case for works to improve Piccadilly Gardens, and has requested the funding needed to take initial plans from landscape architect LDA Design to the next stage.

This next stage would include permission “to deliver the redevelopment, surveys, design works and planning [application] submission, and also to bring forward short term improvements to enhance the experience of the space and reduce current levels of antisocial behaviour,” the documents said.



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