A SCHEME of 32 low-cost homes in Liverpool is fast becoming the UK’s most decorated and talked about social housing project.
The Housing People, Building Communities development off Kingsley Road, Toxteth, has just been shortlisted for an award which, if successful, will be its fourth national trophy in less than 12 months; proof that this relatively small project is having a major impact.
The Liverpool charity has also caught the attention of MPs from all parties. Chief executive Liza Parry and chair Rev Canon Shannon Ledbetter have just visited Berlin as guests of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Self-Build, Custom-Build and Independent Housebuilding, following a personal invitation by its chair, Richard Bacon MP.
The delegation, which also included representatives of the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA), the Scottish Parliament and UK housing associations, saw nine exemplar community build projects in the German city and learnt how communities in Berlin are working together to tackle the shortage of affordable and sustainable homes.
Liza was also recently invited to present on HPBC’s community engagement aspects at a consultation entitled ‘Scaling up Community Housing Solutions in the UK’, held at Windsor Castle and chaired by Lord Richard Best OBE.
HPBC’s project, which combines self-build, volunteering and corporate philanthropy to create much-needed affordable housing, is now a finalist in the Most Innovative /Specialist Solution category of the 2014 National Housing Awards. It’s competing against much larger organisations, including Affinity Sutton, Thames Valley Housing and Viridian Housing, and the winner will be announced on September 11, in London.
Chief executive Liza Parry said: “What makes our project so innovative is the fact that future home owners spend at least 500 hours helping to build the properties in return for a £10,000 discount on the cost of their homes. They work alongside volunteers who come from all over the world to gain experience, learn new skills or simply give something back to society; and they use products, services and materials that have been donated by some of the biggest corporate names.
'Self-build has risen up the political agenda and in his 2014 budget statement the Chancellor reinforced a Government target to increase output by 100% over the next decade. Whilst our project is not a traditional self-build scheme, the 500 hours of ‘sweat equity’ that we incorporate is an interesting variation that has caught the attention of politicians and housing experts alike.'
The National Housing Awards submission was made jointly with Sanctuary Group, which is investing almost £2m in the 23 remaining homes at Kingsley Road and providing additional hands-on support.
Helen Wright, project director for Sanctuary Group, said: 'Providing affordable homes for people in need is at the core of Sanctuary’s charitable purpose so we are delighted to be able to support this project.
'Developments like this are a great example of what can be achieved through collaborative working. This exciting project is not only helping people get a foot on the property ladder, it is giving those involved the chance to learn valuable new skills, strengthen relationships within the community and create a real sense of pride.'
The latest shortlisting follows hot on the heels of the Kingsley Road scheme winning best community led initiative at the 2014 UK Housing Awards and best housing alliance at the First Time Buyer Readers’ Awards; while late last year it was named best community initiative at the Housebuilder Awards.