The NHC host the Regulator for a site visit tour across Greater Manchester

This month the NHC hosted a visit across various member sites in Greater Manchester with the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH). We welcomed Chair of the Regulator, Bernadette Conroy; and Director of Consumer Regulation, Kate Dodsworth, to visit MSV Housing, Johnnie Johnson Housing (JJHT) and Salix Homes sites across Manchester and Salford. This tour provided the opportunity for our members to highlight the key challenges and opportunities they are facing at present – in particular: new supply, net zero, and building safety.

We began the tour with a visit to the Depot regeneration site in the Moss Side area of Manchester. The Depot is a brownfield site which now contains over 200 homes, many of which are MSV’s. Elmswood Park is an MSV extra care scheme offering an independent living experience exclusively for over 55s whilst providing a consistent care service – thus relieving the pressure on residential care settings. Also in the Depot is Bowes House, a Housing our Ageing Population Panel for Innovation (HAPPI) scheme offering 40 shared ownership apartments for over 55s, designed to adapt over time to meet the changing needs of the occupants. The last stop at the Depot was to Manchester City Council’s Neighbourhood Apartments, which are provided to help speed up hospital discharge for older people by providing short-term suitable accommodation. The scheme was a great example of excellent partnership working between local authorities and housing associations – in this case Manchester City Council and MSV.

We then moved on to see Positive Futures, another MSV site in the Moss Side area which was previously MSV’s head office. The building has been repurposed to provide 17 high-quality, affordable apartments for care leavers, with the ground floor being occupied by Positive Futures – a facility which provides training and education for the community.

The last MSV site we visited was Cosy Home, a traditional pre-war terraced house in the heart of Rusholme. This type of house is prolific across Manchester, with MSV alone owning 1,300 similar properties. They are notoriously difficult to retrofit and pose a major problem for providers across the North with these types of homes in their stock. The Cosy Home is a pilot retrofit house which now benefits from an EPC A rating due to internal wall insulation, PV panels, an air source heat pump, and highly efficient new windows and doors.

We then moved on to visit JJHT’s Wellington House site, an independent living housing development for the over 55s. The development has undergone renovation of some of its apartments to convert them from studios to one-bed apartments. JJHT have ambitions to extend this work, and further renovate the scheme to ensure it reaches the high standards set by other JJHT sites. Current approaches to funding the regeneration of existing stock make this more comprehensive regeneration challenging, and we were able to explain to Kate and Bernadette that this is just one example of the constraints net additionality rules place on Northern providers.

To end the tour, we travelled over to Salford to visit two Salix sites. The Regulator had the opportunity to see Canon Hussey Court, a 1960s tower block which was identified as one of eight Salix tower blocks in Salford to have been fitted with cladding that fails fire safety tests. Salix moved promptly to remediate the fire safety failure with a large-scale programme across its tower blocks. However, works on Canon Hussey Court and its sister block, Arthur Millwood Court, were complex. Salix needed to remediate the entire cladding system of the blocks and many challenges arose which were worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic. The programme of work was finally completed in spring 2021 and included the removal and replacement of the defective cladding system, the installation of sprinklers, a new state-of-the art fire alarm system, along with the refurbishment of communal areas.

Our final visit was to Salix’s Greenhaus site where we donned our hard hats and boots to see the ground-breaking, eco-friendly apartment block currently under construction in Salford. The nine-storey, 96-apartment building is being built to Passivhaus standards and will be the largest Passivhaus affordable housing scheme in the north west. Construction of Greenhaus – which is being delivered by the English Cities Fund – is progressing well and is due for completion in spring 2024.

The homes at Greenhaus will benefit from triple-glazed windows and the latest in insulation technology, using minimal energy for heating and cooling. Public electric vehicle charging spaces are also being installed at the site, along with a public square and landscaping. Greenhaus represents a new era of high quality, sustainable and affordable housing, delivering desperately needed affordable homes in Salford which are better for the environment, support carbon neutral ambitions, and help reduce fuel poverty for residents.

The close the day, we held a dinner in Manchester city centre with Bernadette and Kate along with NHC members from across the region, providing members the opportunity to speak directly with the Regulator.

We would like to thank Bernadette Conroy and Kate Dodsworth from the RSH, all members and staff involved in the site visits, and all delegates at the evening dinner.

The Social Housing Regulation Bill is close to completing its passage through Parliament, so this was an apt time to host the Regulator and discuss the experiences of our members.

The NHC convenes regular bilateral meetings with the RSH, as well as a member-led Regulation Network. For details, contact Nigel Johnston, Head of Business Improvement: