A £180 million regeneration scheme for the Beeston Hill, Holbeck and Little London areas is set to start in September after a long wait.
Leeds City Council executive board member Cllr Peter Gruen this afternoon said that a contract between the council and partner Sustainable Communities For Leeds had been signed to deliver the long-awaited Private Finance Initiative regeneration scheme.
The PFI scheme will see 1,245 council homes being refurbished, the building of almost 400 new council homes and environmental improvements to the areas. Survey teams are due on sites within the next few days.
The scheme has been by dogged by difficulties and delays over the past three years, with the start date for on-site work slipping five times in the last two years. Flats like Holbeck Towers and back to back houses in Holbeck and Beeston Hill were demolished back in 2010 to make way for the improvements.
It is thought to be the first housing PFI scheme of its kind with the private finance elemnt secured through the capital funding markets through a bond issue.
Cllr Gruen said:
“Today is a good day. In the present economic climate this is a boost for jobs and the co mmunities who will benefit from the investment. Now we need to start work, which I’m sure will be a massive relief to local residents.”
Cllr Gruen said the council was delivering 95 per cent of what had been initially decided in the bid by using ‘fleet of foot’ and ‘backfilling PFI shortfall’ with its own cash.
In Beeston, there is a council-funded £2.5m programme to bring 87 empty properties on Malvern Rise and Waverley Garth back into use. Work will be completed by May.
A further 21 empty back-to-backs at the Garnets will also be brought back into use in partnership with the Leeds Federated Housing organisation.
In Holbeck, 41 new affordable homes are to be built on cleared land at Brown Lane East in partnership with Unity Housing Association.
The scheme will create apprenticeships, skilled jobs and work experience positions. The council says local people will have the priority for these positions.
Beeston and Holbeck councillor David Congreve said:
“This is great news for the people of Holbeck, who have waited a long time for these refurbishments. Me and my fellow councillors have ensured that refurbishments begin first, in order to help the current residents.”
City and Hunslet Councillor Mohammed Iqbal added:
“Refurbishment across eight sites in Beeston Hill will mean significant developments and regeneration for residents. I am also glad councillors were able to ensure that trainign and employment opportunities are made available in the construction sector.”
The scheme will see a capital investment of £120 million over the next three and a half years and a further £60 million in maintenance costs over the next 20 years. The project, funded by the government as part of a Private Finance Initiative with a council contribution of £40 million.