Manchester shows way on affordable homes

Gerrard Winstanley tony at
Tue Aug 9 16:26:08 BST 2005

City shows way on homes for key workers

Helen Carter
Friday August 5, 2005


Manchester is leading the way in providing affordable housing for key 
workers who were previously unable to get a toehold on the property 
ladder, it has emerged. 

Red or Dead founders Wayne and Geraldine Hemingway are building 
affordable flats - costing less than £80,000 for a studio - in the 
heart of the city's bohemian northern quarter. The 90 apartments in 
the development are being built in a former furniture warehouse behind 
Debenhams, a stone's throw from where the Hemingways started their 
fashion empire more than 20 years ago. 

Within days of being released, 27 of the first set of 30 flats in the 
Birchin development were sold to people who had been priced out of the 
property market. They were released for sale at 6am to target key 
workers as they finished their night shifts. 

"The last thing you want is for investors to come into a building like 
this," Mr Hemingway said. "They just buy and leave it empty and then 
try and make money out of it. Then it's not really an urban 

In New Islington, the architect Will Alsop's first UK residential 
development is three blocks of flats shaped like huge chips on the 
banks of the Ashton canal. They will also be as cheap as chips: 50 of 
the 150 flats will be sold to key workers and first-time buyers. 
Manchester city council is involved, and in a promotional brochure it 
says: "Manchester is the best city in the world, because it's the home 
of every revolution in style that there's ever been. There is no 
better place for a new idea to take off. Chips is a product of this 
soul. It's got balls. 

"It means people with lower incomes can buy homes. That's what 
communities mean. Everyone has a share." 

On the eastern side of Manchester, opposite the City of Manchester 
stadium, Plumlife is building shared-ownership flats aimed at people 
struggling to buy their first home. 

Prices start from £78,570 based on a 60% shared ownership scheme. In 
addition to a mortgage, the monthly rent is £190. The minimum salary 
required to buy one of the flats is around £23,100. 

To qualify for the flats, people must be first-time buyers, those who 
are unable to buy a property outright, tenants or anyone looking to 
get on the property ladder who cannot afford to. The company is also 
offering shared ownership deals at South At Didsbury Point in West 
Didsbury. Prices start at £101,970, also based on a 60% share, with a 
monthly rent of £240. A minimum salary of £28,500 is required - within 
the reach of many young professionals and first-time buyers who would 
otherwise not be able to afford such a property. 

Samantha Miller, north-west regional manager for the National Housing 
Federation, said its members in Manchester had grasped the opportunity 
to diversify into affordable housing. "It is not just limited to key 
workers who are teachers and NHS workers, it is also young 
professionals who find it difficult to afford executive accommodation 
being built." 

She said Harvest Housing Association had a collaboration with an NHS 
trust and Manchester city council's education department to provide 
accommodation for teachers. The city council has to recruit 250 new 
teachers a year because a large percentage of newly qualified staff 
leave within four years. 

The Legendary Property Company is renting one- and two-bedroom former 
council flats on Oldham Road specifically to newly qualified teachers. 
The project, near the city centre, is known as Apple, because of the 
link with the teaching profession. It is also working in collaboration 
with the council to encourage teachers to stay in the area. 
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005

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