HOUSING Minister Brandon Lewis has been introduced to a unique housing project in Liverpool, which combines an element of self-build with shared ownership.
Purchasers of homes at the Housing People, Building Communities’ Kingsley Road development in Toxteth spend up to 500 hours helping to build the properties – and can then buy them on a shared ownership basis through the charity’s development partner Sanctuary Group.
It’s a win-win situation for first time buyers, who reduce the overall cost of their home by £10,000 by contributing what is known as ‘sweat equity’. They then buy a share of their home through a mortgage and pay an affordable rent to Sanctuary on the remaining share.
Mr Lewis met two home partners during his visit, together with other volunteers who are helping to build the homes and construction students from Hugh Baird College who are gaining valuable practical work experience on site.
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said: “This government is committed to increasing housing supply and helping more people achieve their aspiration of home ownership – whether that’s buying on the open market through schemes like Help to Buy, or to build.
"We want to see custom and self-build grow significantly and believe it can play a role as part of a wider package of measures to help deliver the homes people want.
"This unique and ingenious initiative combining self-build with shared ownership brought together by the Sanctuary Group and HPBC is a great example of Britain building again."
Among those Mr Lewis met on site was 27-year-old first time buyer Hannah Anderson, a youth worker, and her partner’s father Andrew Smith, 70, who is helping Hannah and Martin Shannon-Smith to complete their 500 hours of sweat equity.
“As soon as I started working I wanted to own a home of my own but it just wasn’t possible to save a deposit while paying rent,” Hannah explained. “When I first heard of the opportunity to help build my own home it sounded like a ‘Grand Designs’ kind of dream and I never thought it would be possible, but it turns out it is. Not only will I own my own home but I’ll have helped to build it too – and I’ll have built it with my neighbours. It’s an amazing project and I’d love to see more of them around the UK.”
So far Hannah and Martin have clocked up around 200 of their sweat equity hours, helped by Martin’s retired dad Andrew who spends up to two days each week on site.
“I worked in an office all of my life so it’s very different to find myself on a building site getting my hands dirty, but it’s a great experience and the professionals who help us are all very patient and friendly,” Andrew added.
Founder and chair of Housing People, Building Communities, Rev’d Canon Shannon Ledbetter explained how the project is not only contributing to helping solve the country’s housing crisis but also demonstrates true community cohesion.
“We have people of all ages, backgrounds, cultures and faiths working side by side helping to build these homes,” Shannon said. “This model for homeownership is proving highly successful and we hope it can be replicated on a larger scale utilising the knowledge, skills and experience that we’ve gained through this project.”
Now nearing completion, the Kingsley Road project will eventually comprise 32 homes and relies on volunteer labour and donations of money, materials and gifts in kind to keep building costs low. It has had support from the Homes and Communities Agency, Liverpool City Council and many companies including Wienerberger and ISG Construction.