City to work with small-builders to revitalise vacant land

Liverpool City Council is launching a new pilot project to bring vacant land across the city back into use for small-scale housing projects.

The city’s Property and Asset Management team has drawn up an initial list of 16 council-owned sites, some of which have been vacant for decades. This land – which includes sites in Walton Village, Kirkdale, Croxteth and Princes Park – will now be marketed to individuals or groups who may be interested in small-build housing developments.

The plans aim to bring some of the city’s vacant land back into meaningful use and stimulate growth in areas where little interest has been shown in housing development for many years. Most of the sites previously contained housing which was demolished.

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said; “We are taking every possible step to drive forward housing growth in this city. A big part of this is making the most of our assets, so we can support the delivery of new homes in areas which need it most. At the same time, we want to tackle the problem of vacant, derelict land which blights our communities.

“We have a number of sites which are suitable for small schemes. Making them available to builders or individuals who want to build their own home makes eminent sense, as part of our wider work to provide affordable housing in every part of our city and attract people back into our communities.

“We will now be inviting submissions from individuals or organisations who want to work with us to deliver schemes. We are looking for projects of quality design, which can be delivered quickly, and which will complement the area in which they are located.

“I have pledged to deliver 5,000 new homes for our city by 2015 and this is the type of innovative approach which will be so important in achieving that target.”

The 16 brownfield sites identified by the council range from 286sqm to 9622sqm in size. As such, the majority are suitable for between one and five houses – with three bigger sites in Croxteth, which formerly held tower blocks, suitable for larger custom-build proposals.

Liverpool City Council will shortly be advertising the available land and contacting small builders, community organisations, social housing providers, charities and people who wish to build their own house, to invite expressions of interest.

Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Ann O’Byrne, said: “We have talked extensively with small-build organisations in this the city – and we know that there is certainly an appetite and demand for these types of schemes.

“We want to respond to that, and identifying these initial sites is a major step in the right direction. I’m confident that it will help get a range of small-build schemes off the ground. This is a pilot project, and if it is a success we’ll be looking to bring forward more sites in the future. We’ll also be working with Liverpool organisation Comtechsa to promote the use of local architects and builders where possible.

“These plans will help bring a new lease of life to areas of the city which have been in desperate need of regeneration for many years. It will also help small builders turn their ideas into reality and empower communities in the redevelopment of their neighbourhoods. Most importantly, it will allow us to transform vacant land into the high quality, affordable housing which this city so badly needs.”

Housing schemes which focus on the re-use of obsolete or under-used land in built-up areas are known in the urban planning industry, as ‘infill’ developments.

The City Council owns the freehold to the land and plans to dispose of the sites by way of a long leasehold.
Liverpool City Council is inviting expressions of interest for both individual sites and for groups of sites, and from individuals as well as small builders interested in small scale (1 or 2 new build units) to larger scale proposals (above 5 units).

Expressions of interest will be expected to include a financial offer for the site,; and interested parties will be asked to provide a range of other details, including their financial arrangements to deliver the proposal; a timetable for delivery; design principles; how the site will be managed; and any wider social, economic or environmental benefits to be delivered. All proposals will be assessed by the city council with a decision on the outcome of the initiative taken by late Spring.

You can download the Expressions of Interest documents and details of sites here: www.liverpool.gov.uk/business/land-and-property/small-build-sites/

Delivering housing

• Liverpool City Councils Housing Strategy was published in summer 2013. It aims to influence the future supply of housing in Liverpool by making the best use of the available resources to meet housing need and support the city’s economic growth objectives.

• The strategy sets out how the city will work with a range of partners to improve the supply, choice and quality of homes across the city, and provide a range of good quality homes to meet the needs of all current and future residents.

• The Housing Strategy identifies ten strategic priority areas, including improving housing choice within the city. The challenge is to provide sufficient affordable homes for those in housing need whilst also meeting the aspirations of those wanting to access market housing.

• The strategy also seeks to increase the supply of affordable housing by working with communities and small builders to develop the potential to bring forward small-build projects.

• In 2012, the HCA made £30 million funding available – until 31st March 2015 – to provide short term finance for custom build projects.

• The fund will help communities own, develop and/or manage their own land and developments, through emerging models such as co-operatives, mutual, co-housing, self-build, Community Land Trusts(CLTs) Community Right-to-Build as well as self-build construction. www.homesandcommunities.co.uk