Nigel Sedman, Group Director of Investment and Regeneration explains how multi-tenure neighbourhoods create strong, sustainable communities...

The need for affordable rented homes has never been greater.

Landlords across the country are rising to the challenge and expanding their development programmes.

However, in our desire to deliver homes on the scale needed, it is important that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past.

Large, single-tenure estates deliver homes in volume, but there is little evidence to suggest they go beyond that and transform communities, create stable long term neigbourhoods or empower the individuals who live within them.

We are not simply volume house builders – our role in creating sustainable communities needs to be much broader than that.

Multi-tenure estates will be at the heart of ForViva’s development programme for a number of reasons.

Firstly, mixed tenure represents a financial enabler for delivering the affordable homes that will always be our priority.

Grant funding is at the mercy of government policy. Consequently, we have to find a way of ensuring a constant flow of new affordable homes that can withstand fluctuations in grant.

Having a multi-tenure approach allows us to create surpluses through shared ownership, outright sale and private rented homes to reinvest in the delivery of affordable and social rent properties.

But multi-tenure is about much more than cross-subsidy.

Housing developments with a range of complementary tenures give residents and customers the chance to build their own communities. They create sustainable, diverse and aspirational neighbourhoods where people want to live and have real opportunities to thrive.

Our Barton Village scheme in Salford is a prime example of this approach in action.

The scheme was once solely a community of general needs older residents and those living in sheltered housing. We invested heavily in the high-rise blocks, completely refurbishing them, but also created a new multipurpose community hub and refurbished the local shops to serve and support the wider neighbourhood.

At the same time, we converted one of the blocks to Affordable Rent and built some new apartments on the site of a former derelict pub. We also created new canal side Shared Ownership family homes on the site.

By the time the work was completed the estate was completely transformed – both in terms of the physical environment and the dynamics and cohesion of the community.

This regeneration and diversification of the area has resulted is a community that is now more vibrant, more aspirational, has a key stake in the local area and is more economically active. We know through our allocations processes that nearly all of our tenants in this area are now in work or full-time education.

At our new scheme at The Willows, on the site of the former Salford Reds rugby league ground, residents and customers have reported that our approach has helped to instil a real sense of community.

The overall design, tenure mix and layout has been key on the site. The scheme included Shared Ownership family housing at the gateway to the estate, Affordable Rent family housing behind this and an Affordable Rent apartment block at the top of the site.

Providing low cost home ownership options helps to anchor and sustain areas, with customers taking a real interest and pride in their local area.

But creating multi-tenure communities comes with its challenges.

Proper planning to secure the right sites in locations that can accommodate different tenures is essential.

All schemes must be viable. We need to be realistic that some sites that are suitable for Affordable Rent would not necessarily work for Shared Ownership or Outright Sale. The market value of properties may be less than the cost to build these in some cases.

Planning for longevity is also a major consideration. When you relinquish ownership of a property within a mixed development it is valuable to have some form of control or influence on how it is used in the future, so all homes contribute positively to local sustainability.

Many Right to Buy properties on estates across the country are now in the hands of private landlords. If they are managed poorly, this can cause issues for landlords and residents who own and live in the surrounding stock.

At ForViva, we have many multi-tenure schemes coming forward as part of our development programme.

Our priority will always be providing homes for Affordable Rent, but in delivering these properties we will aim to create diverse, sustainable schemes that are financially viable through cross-subsidy.

Finally, our schemes will always be tenure blind – the quality and appearance of the homes we develop will always be equal, irrespective of tenure, helping create the thriving communities of the future.

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