A flagship project to regenerate council housing in three deprived parts of Leeds has been hit by a fresh delay.
Work was expected to start on improvements to hundreds of homes in Little London, Beeston Hill and Holbeck within the next few months.
Yesterday, (Feb 11) however, bosses at Leeds City Council announced that, even in a best case scenario, the project will not kick into life until October.
The delay follows a decision by the Government to shift the scheme’s financial goalposts at what the local authority called “very little notice”.
Council chiefs and the private sector consortium picked to carry out the improvement work had planned to part-fund the project with £140m borrowed from the banks.
Now, though, the Government has said the scheme cannot be financed by bank borrowing. It says the council and its private sector partner need to pursue alternative funding options that will deliver better value for money.
One possible source of finance is the bond market, where money can be borrowed at a lower rate of interest than from banks.
Coun Peter Gruen, the council’s executive board member for neighbourhoods, planning and support services, said: “I know that in the short-term this is extremely disappointing for local communities affected by this project. I want to stress that the council is still committed to pushing the project through to completion.”
Assuming the scheme does go ahead, it will mean the construction of nearly 400 new council homes. A further 1,245 council properties would also undergo refurbishment.
The project has been on the drawing board for several years.
Council chiefs have responded to the new hold-up by announcing a separate series of housing regeneration schemes.
Work on the first project – which will see 87 empty properties in Beeston Hill brought back into use at a cost of £2.5m – can start immediately. Other areas selected for improvements include the Garnets in Hunslet, Brown Lane East in Holbeck and the central ‘hub’ of Little London.
“These additional schemes bring real benefits and opportunities to the people of these communities,” said Coun Gruen.