Top award for developers who built homes for the homeless in Leeds

The developer of two properties built to support homeless people in Leeds has won a top award.

Thursday, 28th October 2021, 11:45 am
Regent Lodge in Hyde Park.

Both properties were built for charity St George’s Crypt to help tackle housing vulnerability in the city.

The first purpose-built development - Regent Lodge in Hyde Park - was completed in 2019.

It now supports 14 residents with alcohol problems who are on the road to recovery.

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Don Robins House in New Wortley.

They all live in self-contained studio apartments, designed to aid in the development of life skills, boost self-confidence and aid self-esteem in a structured setting.

Last year it was named Yorkshire’s best residential development at the RICS Social Impact Awards.

The second development 'Don Robins House', which is named after the priest who established St George’s Crypt in 1930, was completed in June of this year.

Don Robins transformed the crypt beneath St George’s Church in Leeds city centre into a kitchen and shelter for those in need.

Don Robins House, in Hedley Chase, New Wortley, consists of 24, one and two bedroom apartments and was developed in partnership with Leeds City Council, which provided low cost loan facilities as well as financing 30 per cent of the capital costs through its Right to Buy Replacement Programme.

Property industry charity, LandAid, which works to end youth homelessness in the UK, also provided a £75,000 grant for the development.

The supported setting offers two homes specifically for people under the age of 25, helping some of the most vulnerable young people in Leeds.

Residents are allotted properties for two years based on need and personal circumstance, with tenancy agreements designed to promote independence and engagement.

Residents benefit from ongoing support within the development’s dedicated training area, covering everything from nutrition to health and wellbeing.

Vistry Partnerships Yorkshire was the principal contractor on both schemes and they were designed by Brewster Bye Architects..

For its work on the buildings, Vistry Partnerships Yorkshire received a prestigious Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Award for Sustainability and Societal Impact at the Yorkshire Residential Property Awards 2021.

Both developments were also runners-up in the Best Small Development category.

Director at Brewster Bye Architects, Nathan Wilkinson, said: “It has been very rewarding to work with St George’s Crypt to successfully finance and deliver two high quality, purpose-built developments. Both schemes provide a lifeline to some of our city’s most vulnerable people.

“The concept was a complete first for Leeds and although we’ve faced a lot of challenges along the way, we’ve continually found solutions and proved the model can work.

"This award is testament to this, and we’re now exploring further development opportunities in and around Leeds, in order to continue tackling homelessness in the city.”

CEO at St George’s Crypt, Chris Fields, said: “Both these developments are immediately making a major difference to local people who are firmly committed to turning their lives around and preparing to live independently.

“The support from Yorkshire’s property community, including the expert guidance from Brewster Bye Architects, city living specialist Jonathan Morgan and Joel Owen from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, has been invaluable.

"Winning this award, and having our efforts recognised in front of the best of Yorkshire’s property industry, is a huge achievement for everyone involved.”

Speaking earlier this year, Mr Fields said: "Our recovery programme, separate to Don Robins House, known as the Growing Rooms, gives people the opportunity to live together and work through their recovery every day in a class-based setting before volunteering within the city. It’s been a big success story helping countless people to turn their lives around.

“Don Robins House will share in this ethos. It will give people a safe and stable home where they can live for two years.

"During this time, they will receive support from a wide range of sources within the development’s dedicated training area, covering everything from nutrition to health and wellbeing.

"This will give them the confidence and ability to return to independent living and ultimately employment.”

The Yorkshire Residential Property Awards 2021 raises vital funds for Variety the children’s charity to pay for individual grants for children in Yorkshire who need wheelchairs and specialist equipment that is unavailable on the NHS.