Last week the NHC and member organisations welcomed Isobel Stephen, Housing Supply Director, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to the North West to participate in a housing tour from Liverpool through to Warrington.

The tour featured a visit to Granby Four Streets — a development highlighting examples of multi-agency delivery and winner of the 2015 Turner Prize. It also included a visit to the well-known ‘homes for one pound’ and Norris Green Village, a large redevelopment of cleared, Liverpool City Council owned land. The group saw projects from Liverpool Mutual Homes, Torus, Plus Dane Housing and Liverpool City Council (LCC). It was designed to showcase innovative work in the area, but also to highlight some of the more challenging neighbourhoods and the difficulties our members face in turning them around.

The visit offered an opportunity to see Phase 1 and 2 of the regeneration work being undertaken by Placefirst, a build-to-rent developer behind the transformation of the Welsh Streets in Toxteth. The homes have been created through an innovative refurbishment of three streets of Victorian terraced housing. Also highlighted was the Plus Dane pilot project Phase 3 (Gwydir Street) and its wider plans for delivering 99 affordable homes in the area. Through the refurbishment of all three phases the interiors have been completely remodelled to create light filled, energy efficient homes that blend old and new elements of the properties, whilst externally, traditional rear yards and alleys have been replaced by landscaped communal gardens. Placefirst is a northern-based company set up to improve the private renting experience for the growing number of households who now rely on this sector for their housing needs.

The tour included a visit to the Garden Festival site from 1984, which is hoped to be developed into a “cultural garden suburb” with visitor attractions, 2,500 homes and potentially even a ferry terminal. The site needs considerable remediation to be brought back into use. The group also visited Liverpool’s Anfield neighbourhood to see new build and refurbishment-based housing delivery, including the expanded Liverpool football stadium.

Norris Green Village is an impressive new development of 221 desirable family homes located near the heart of Liverpool city centre. In recent years, Norris Green has been part of a large regeneration project, now with its lovely new homes, green spaces and a thriving community, it is a very popular development. The tour visited the site which deals with the re-development of cleared, Liverpool City Council owned land. 60 acres of land has seen the introduction of 829 new mixed tenure and tenure neutral homes. The project, which commenced in February 2011, seeks to regenerate the housing market within the area by providing a diverse range of properties with a variety of ownership and rental options. It is noteworthy because of the financial innovation which has underpinned its development and the flexibility which Liverpool City Council exhibited in their desire to work in partnership.

The tour ended with a visit to Ash Acre Meadows in Latchford, Warrington. Here Torus Group has developed 104 new homes, 54 of these homes were available for rent and 50 for sale. Of the sale units, 40 were offered via shared ownership and 10 through the Help to Buy equity loan scheme. Homes England funding was secured for 33 affordable rent units and 40 shared ownership units via the HCA AHP2 2015-18 programme. All homes on the site are now occupied, with the development proving to be very popular with local people.

This tour was a fantastic opportunity for MHCLG to see examples of where regeneration has had a positive impact on the quality of life of local communities – as well as highlighting the difficulties our members face in turning some of the more challenging areas around. The NHC believes locally driven regeneration and a strengthened housing supply are critical to achieving the growth needed across the North to develop and re-balance our economy. We know the North has the potential and the opportunities to do this and with the help of some of our members we were able to demonstrate this last week.

Our work on the Commission for Housing in the North calls for concerted and consistent policies to boost investment in our infrastructure, which includes housing, and to provide the local flexibility to most effectively manage it. Read more about our work on regeneration here.