Leeds City Council has announced further delays to the PFI-funded scheme to bring new housing to Holbeck and Beeston Hill.
The latest delay has apparently been caused by the government requiring the Council and the contractors to find different funding to that which they had in place. The Council has been told to ask the preferred bidder, sustainable communities for Leeds (sc4L) to seek improved value for money through alternative long term funding options, which it says are now available for similar large scale projects.
The government has indicated that whilst it remains committed to providing continued support for the project, the original terms on which the PFI scheme was to have been funded are now no longer feasible and that new, more advantageous funding options are available.
The decision means the project is still set to go ahead, but faces further delay.
Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:
“We have had many months of detailed negotiations and repeated assurances from the banks telling us that they are committed to the project. However, despite these assurances, the progress made to gain financial close has been slow and the costs of funding the project have increased. This has been frustrating, and as a result we have encountered a number of delays.
“I know that in the short term this is extremely disappointing for local communities affected by this project. I want to stress that the council is still totally committed to pushing the project through to completion.
“The council has moved quickly to respond to this further challenge and our preferred bidder is working hard to identify a viable alternative solution which should achieve better value for money over the project’s lifespan.
“The programme for moving forward is still being established, but will ensure that the local community will still benefit from the refurbishment of the 1245 council homes, construction of 388 new council homes to rent and environmental improvements to the estate. In addition to this, the PFI project will include a training and employment scheme leading to around 250 jobs, work placements, apprenticeships and social enterprise opportunities.
“As part of moving forward with the regeneration in the area and to complement the PFI project, the council will invest £2.53 million to bring 87 properties in the Beeston Hill area back into use. Along with this, the Little London local centre and education facilities in the area will be improved in the next few years to address some of the neighbourhood’s needs. These additional schemes bring real benefits and opportunities to the people of these communities.”
This project has faced delay after delay. People living in Holbeck and Beeston Hill are living with empty sites and sheeted up housing. The scheme has been on and off for ten years. Holbeck Towers were demolished three years ago. Housing in Beeston Hill has been empty for two years. It seems this delay and the last one are outside the control of Leeds City Council. That’s OK, we don’t blame the Council, but we do need the Council to be fighting our corner and we need some reassurance that the scheme won’t collapse and leave Beeston Hill & Holbeck in this mess forever.
6 Replies to “Further delays to Beeston Hill & Holbeck PFI housing scheme”
Why am I not surprised at this news ?…..been a nightmare from the start.Whilst not blaming LCC directly for this latest setback-I always questioned their wisdom in demolishing what was then,habitable housing stock without a proper structure in place to commence immediate replacement of same.That was the real folly of the scheme that has caused untold misery and blight for thousands.
Very disappointed that I have to look at boarded properties for the foreseeable future. More importantly crime in the area seems to be on the rise. thankfully the culprit that tried to break into my house/garden last night was caught, but that doesn’t stop the worry. the broken window theory is certainly not just a theory 🙁
There’s a bit more detail on the Leeds Citizen website which suggests that work on the ground won’t start until October ‘at the earliest’. There is also reference to other activity in the area which the Council is engaged:
‘Cllr Gruen announced four new projects for the affected areas, as a way to “restate (the council’s) faith in the areas and show them they are not being abandoned”.
‘In Beeston, an immediate start is going to be made on a £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 properties (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.’
Whoops – trigger happy! The fourth project is in Little London
One further thought: whether any of this will help the kind of problems Dawn refers to in her comment is very debatable although bringing back empty properties back into use should help.
Steve I’m hoping so! All areas have their problems (not just Beeston) and I know that the authorities are doing their best in South Leeds – especially the Police. However, properties that have been boarded up for a long time definitely don’t help the perception that the majority of people have about Beeston and anti-social behaviour and crime do appear to be on the rise in my immediate vicinity.
I’m just hoping that by refurbishing the existing boarded up properties will mean that the new tenants will take more pride in where they live and be more inclined to look after their properties. Hopefully this in turn will help reduce crime and make it a better place to live – after all we have access to great facilities and motorway networks – we just need access to great properties and tenants who care about their community. But, I suppose the latter is a whole new discussion!
Dawn, Ensuring tenants take more pride in where they live and care about the community is a very big issue. My own view is one of the biggest problems facing the area is tenants who don’t do this – living both in social housing and private rented housing. I do think the Council’s new Anti-SocialBehaviour Unit is beginning, in partnership with the Police beginning to tackle this problem more effectively.
One of the things that could be done is to contact the various landlords who will be letting the properties referred to by Cllr Gruen, whom I quoted above, to see what their lettings policies are and how they will ensure that decent properties are let to decent people! The place to start would seem to be Aire Valley Homes and the Council in the letting of the homes at Malvern Rise and Waverley Garth as they will be let first.
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