Housing association Onward and contractor Hampton Developments have started work on a £2.7m project to convert the former St Bernard’s Catholic Church in Toxteth into 16 affordable homes.
The church, which dates back to 1901, is not listed but is considered a building of interest. It was gifted to charity Housing People Building Communities by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool, with the aim of turning it into affordable homes.
Supported by architect Ainsley Gommon and contractor Hampton Developments, the church will be converted into 11 three-storey townhouses, while a three-bedroom detached house and four two-bedroom apartments will be built on the adjacent parish hall site.
All of the homes will be available for shared ownership. Work is expected to take 18 months to complete and the homes will be handed over in late 2019.
HPBC has adapted an approach it calls “sweat equity” which enables potential homeowners to reduce their deposit by £10,000 by giving 500 hours of work to the project.
Shannon Ledbetter, founder and chair of HPBC said: “We’ve already had a lot of interest in the properties. Through the ‘sweat equity’ programme people will naturally feel a profound sense of ownership and pride in their neighbourhood, as they will have invested their time as well as money in the development.
“The success of our previous development means we have a strong, engaged community here already, and this church redevelopment will further build on that.
“We have a wonderfully diverse group of residents of all ages from families through to older people and it’s so rewarding to see the community spirit that has developed over a relatively short amount of time.”
Onward was formed earlier this month as a merger of five North West housing associations: Contour Homes, Liverpool Housing Trust, Ribble Valley Homes, Hyndburn Homes, and Peak Valley Housing Association.
In total, the housing associations employ around 800 people and manage 35,000 homes across the North West.