What is going on? This week Salford Star documented how Salford City Council has over 14,000 people on its housing waiting list as it admitted that "most applicants have little chance of ever being re-housed" (see here). Meanwhile, the Council also reckons that 887 affordable properties need to be built every year to cope with the crisis...
...Yet the first housing help to come out of the Greater Manchester devolution deal sees loans being given to some of the richest companies in the North West, to build unaffordable properties for people who aren't on any waiting lists...and to be built with loans guaranteed by the ten Greater Manchester local authorities, of which Salford's share is £21.129million*.
The £300million Greater Manchester Housing Fund this week approved loan funding totalling £42.564million for five schemes, one of which is in Salford and one is yards over the Trafford border on the controversial Pomona site owned by Peel Holdings.
The Salford project is the Done brothers' FICM Ltd, which is to get a £17.312million loan towards its two horrendous blocks of 380 apartments by the Black Friars pub in Trinity. According to the Sunday Times Rich List, the Done brothers, Fred and Peter, are the sixth wealthiest people in the North West, worth £950million, up £50million from the previous year (see here). But this hasn't stopped them pleading poverty.
In March, Salford Council waived £1.28million of planning fees plus the need to provide 76 affordable properties for the Trinity Way apartment blocks because the development wouldn't be `viable' if the Dones would have to pay the fees ie that their profit wouldn't be high enough (see previous Salford Star article click here).
Now the Dones are not only saving £millions in fees and on affordable housing but are also being handed a loan of over £17million to build the blocks guaranteed by Salford council tax payers!
Meanwhile, as the fight to save Pomona and its diverse ecology continues, with planning permission not yet approved (see previous Salford Star articles click here and click here), the GM Housing Fund has provided a massive slap in the face for campaigners by approving a £10.3million loan to Rowlinson Developments Ltd, to concrete over the site and build two ugly blocks of 164 apartments on Peel Holdings' land at Pomona Wharf.
Three other housing schemes have also been handed loans, on top of another scheme which was approved in July giving a total of £66.3million, all guaranteed by the ten Greater Manchester Councils**
The handing over of finance to high end property companies providing unaffordable housing appears to be a deliberate policy by Greater Manchester Combined Authorities, or GMCA.
A report on the Greater Manchester Housing Fund by Manchester City Council, which administers the scheme, states that it will "support a high quality private rented offer: with the target market likely to be a young, highly mobile population who will demand a high quality, well managed product" and "high quality housing, within high quality neighbourhoods with the right mix of amenities and facilities to attract and retain a highly skilled workforce".
The properties are certainly not for those thousands of residents on social housing registers waiting to be re-housed. This is public money being diverted towards a different agenda.
"Ensuring that Greater Manchester's housing supply meets its economic growth and the needs of the area's people is fundamental to the region's future" explained Councillor Sue Derbyshire, chair of GMCA's Housing and Planning Commission, without any irony.
The press release accompanying the Fund announcement adds: "The Greater Manchester Housing Fund was created as part of the region's devolution agenda and is a cornerhouse of the ambition to create a new wave of high quality homes. Housing supply continues to lag behind Greater Manchester's current strong economic and jobs growth and needs to accelerate to accommodate a growing population."
The question is, which population?
* Within the £300 GM Housing Fund, the ten local councils are guaranteeing £240million, of which Salford's share is £21.129million, or 8.8% based on its population in relation to the rest of Greater Manchester. The Housing Fund is costing £535,000 to administrate and last week's meeting of the GMCA to approve the latest loans also approved a rise in the potential salary of a Transaction Manager to overview the scheme from £55,000, to £60,000 in order "to attract candidates with the appropriate level of skills and experience matching the job description"
** Details of all the loans totalling £66.3million...
Manchester: Belgravia Living Ltd, Tarrif Street £9.741m 91 apartments
Oldham: Roman Investments (Boundary Park Ltd), £1.45m 20 three-bed semi detached homes
Salford: FICM Ltd, Trinity Way (Salford), £17.312m 380 apartments
Trafford: Rowlinson Developments Ltd, Pomona Wharf (Salford), £10.3m 164 apartments
Trafford: THT Developments Ltd, Woodfield Road (Trafford), £3.76m 9 town houses and 32 apartments
Manchester: LQ Developments, £23.731m for 301 apartments and 6 town houses in Water Street, Manchester.
See also Salford's £19million Planning Scandal in the latest printed issue - click here