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Kersal Frights.
 

On the site of the former Kersal High School the much awaited flagship Miller Regeneration housing development is producing only 5 homes for social rent with `affordable housing’ costing £175,000….


The first big housing regeneration scheme in the Kersal and Charlestown New Deal For Communities area finally got the go ahead recently, but will the community be excited by this debut new housing project ? According to the partnership of the council, developers and New Deal for Communities, everyone should be overjoyed…

“…this development will help deliver some of the quality homes and facilities that local people have told us they want and need” said Salford Council Leader, John Merry “I am delighted…”

Mike Lewis, managing director of Miller Regeneration, was “absolutely delighted” with the decision and Tim Field, chief exec of NDC enthused that it was “great news for the regeneration of Charlestown and Lower Kersal…”.

So what is the community of Charlestown and Lower Kersal getting from this development that’s so wonderful? “28 Affordable Homes are to be built on site to accommodate the move by local residents affected by clearance elsewhere” slobbered the partnership’s press release…

Assuming they are affordable, 28 homes out of 230 houses works out at around12% of the total. This is less than half of the affordable homes figure that the council itself is proposing. A report of the Lead Member for Salford’s Housing to the Cabinet in May 2006 stated quite clearly (bad English his not ours) that “the council should be seeking for 20% of new housing developments to be affordable…25% being the council’s aspirational figure and 20% being its minimum”. The original affordable homes figure for the site was 10% but another five houses were added in a “trade off” for “community facilities”.

 

It was 18 months ago when the council first sealed its agreement with Miller Homes and Inspired Developments to develop the prime land site with stunning panoramic views across Salford. At the time, the council put out a press release under the heading `Affordable Housing for Local People’…the “new homes will provide a significant element of affordable housing for local people”…

Of the 28 `affordable homes’, Contour Housing are managing 11 of the properties. Of those, only five are for social rent. Which means that from all the council owned properties due for demolition in the area only a handful of occupiers are going to be offered a new rented property on the site. The other six `Contour’ houses will be offered for sale on a `shared ownership’ basis. Contour told us that, of the first three of these houses, two large family homes will cost £175,000, and a smaller one will cost £140,000.

This shared ownership scheme means that the buyer purchases 50% of the property (for the £175,000 house the cost is £85,000 either bought outright or through a mortgage), and then pays a rent at 3% of the cost of the `unsold equity’ to Contour, which rises at 0.5% a year (the rent would work out at around £54 a week to start), with an option to reduce the rental figure by purchasing more of the unsold equity after 12 months.

“Affordability for local people has been calculated in strict line with the Housing Corporation required regulations” says Paul Adamson, Policy and Communication Officer for Contour Housing.

“The scheme has been put together targeting a household with two incomes earning a total of £22,000p.a. - £11k each (for the smaller house) or £27,000 p.a. - £13.5k each (for the two larger houses)” he adds “This is in line with the Salford average earnings for the local area of £11,000 p.a. and a standard mortgage being attained of 3.5 times annual income.

“For those families that earn under these average earnings, or aren’t attracted to owning their own property through shared ownership we also have five social rented properties on the site.”

The other 17 `affordable homes’ are to be, according to the official planning document “low cost owner occupied” houses…”Miller/Inspired Developments will discount these homes by 25% of the open market value”. The shared equity homes being sold by Contour already have this discount, so you can work out the region of cost for these `affordable homes’ too. Will there be a stampede of families from Lower Kersal/Charlestown rushing to buy in Kersal Heights ? Our random survey says not…

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