THE city council in Manchester has approved a scheme to refurbish empty properties in the city to provide “affordable” homes for sale to first time buyers.
Through the scheme, the council will provide £2 million in recyclable grant funding to Mosscare St Vincent’s (MSV) Housing Group. It is expected the funding could see up to 90 empty homes brought back into use for sale, providing an alternative on to the property ladder.
MSV will acquire the properties, undertake the refurbishments and market them for sale to first time buyers or to residents on or below the city’s average household income, who want to become owner occupiers.
Furthermore, in line with its target to become a zero carbon city by 2038, the council said the partnership will also review the option to fully retrofit the homes to be as close to zero carbon as possible. However, this will significantly increase the cost of refurbishment and this option would see around 30 properties made available through the grant funding.
“The Council has been successful in recent years in bringing a huge swathe of empty public sector housing back into use. However, private sector empty homes have long presented a challenge as there isn’t an obligation for the owner to do anything with them,” said Councillor Suzanne Richards, Manchester City Council’s executive member for housing and regeneration.
“This partnership will mean we can acquire the empty homes, bring them back into use and provide a real route on the housing ladder for first time buyers and people on lower incomes.
“Partnering with Moss Care St Vincent’s means we can start to deliver this type of home at scale, and helps us meet a key objective as part of our affordable homes strategy.
“We are also keen to explore with Moss Care St Vincent’s how we can use some of the properties to trial low and zero carbon retrofit works, which would in itself realise further savings for homeowners in relation to fuel bills.”
According to the council, the current housing market in Manchester shows there is a significant number of lower value properties in the city (more than 70% of all homes in the city are council Tax A and B) but the only way to access many of them is through the traditional high street sales route.
The council has committed to developing new models to deliver “affordable” homes across the city. This partnership will help to improve the mix of affordable housing options available to residents to meet demand across a range of property types and tenures to meet demand.
The £2 million grant is from the council’s Affordable Homes Fund, which holds Section 106 developer contributions negotiated through the planning process. The council has committed to 6,400 affordable homes between 2015 and 2025 across a mix of tenures.
Yvonne McDermott, executive director of growth for MSV Housing Group, said: “We are working hard with Manchester City Council to tackle the lack of affordable properties for homeownership and it’s only by trying out new ideas and innovative schemes such as this that we will bring much needed new supply to the market. Our aim is to do more, now, to help Mancunians realise their dream of owning their own home.”