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Development consortium gains momentum

The Unity Community Development Consortium (UCDC) was set up in May 2021 by Leeds-based BME housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise.
Gudrun Haskins-Carlisle

A recently established partnership tasked with supporting young and fledgling housing associations and community groups to build new affordable housing in Yorkshire and Humber is having a positive impact across the region.

The consortium has since expanded its membership to include Chartford Housing, Manningham Housing Association, Harrogate Housing, and Hull and East Yorkshire Mind.

Unity has also been supporting Pickering and Ferens Homes to deliver new properties in Hull.  To date they have completed eight new homes and are due to complete on a 24 unit bungalow development in September.

In the past year, Unity assisted Hull and East Yorkshire Mind to convert three large properties to produce 21 flats for people suffering from mental health and are also working on a development opportunity which will yield 26 new properties on behalf of Harrogate Housing.

UCDC has been granted Investment Partner status by the government’s housing and regeneration agency, Homes England, which allows it to apply for grant funding to deliver new properties through the Affordable Homes Programme 2021 to 2026 and the Rough Sleepers and Single Homelessness Programmes, providing much needed affordable accommodation for some of the most vulnerable people in the region.

Wayne Noteman, Director of Regeneration at Unity Homes and Enterprise, explained that the partnership arrangements have enabled consortium members to support each other’s development plans by sharing best practice, resources and expertise.

He said: “The vision behind the establishment of the consortium was to create a pathway for smaller providers to utilise their development capacity and increase the supply of affordable housing for the public good.

“Not all housing associations possess in-house development expertise to build homes.  However, by drawing on the professional support of other members, construction programmes have gained momentum with numerous schemes now on site or at an advanced stage of preparation.

“Alongside new properties, assistance has also been given by Unity to acquire existing properties from the open market for affordable rent and facilitate the transfer of housing stock from other Registered Providers.”

Gudrun Haskins-Carlisle, CEO of Chartford Housing, said the knowledge transfer between the six housing associations which form UCDC has been “hugely beneficial.”

She continued: “We are a small organisation which manages more than 600 properties across West Yorkshire.

“Through our involvement as a founder member of the consortium, Chartford has developed four flats for homeless people and secured capital and revenue funding of over £2 million to deliver a further 22 new properties.

“The assistance we have received is also supporting our efforts to identify and acquire suitable properties on the open market to add to our existing stock.”

Manningham Housing Association, which manages more than 1,400 homes for over 6,000 residents in Bradford and Keighley, has joined UCDC more recently.

Its CEO, Lee Bloomfield, said: “We were seeking to reboot our development plans and the support from UCDC and Wayne has been vital in progressing these.

“The result has been the stock transfer of 18 houses and the acquisition of a further 14 properties through Home England’s Purchase and Repair programme.

“On top of these achievements, we have concluded a deal to purchase 20 new homes and remain in negotiations to secure a further 30 properties.”

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