Leeds housing focus: Team aims to bring new life to troubled housing estate

PROJECT: Bill Graham and Maureen Graham of New Wortley Housing Association - they are starting a community-led housing project.
PROJECT: Bill Graham and Maureen Graham of New Wortley Housing Association - they are starting a community-led housing project.
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This week the YEP is shining the spotlight on community-led housing in Leeds, its bid to offer an alternative to volume housebuilders and the work taking place across the city to put people - not profit - at the heart of housing.

Joanna Wardill looks at a community association’s plans to build houses on a Leeds estate and how charities and organisations are helping the city’s vulnerable find homes.

What the New Wortley Community Association is doing down on one of Leeds’ most troubled estates is another example of how community-led housing can work in the city.

Fresh from the success of managing the build of a brand new community centre, which opened earlier this year, the association is embarking on its next large-scale building project on the Holdforths and Clydes estate - houses.

Project manager Bill Graham said residents want to see areas of land on the estate where youths congregate turned into affordable housing.

And rather than see a bog standard developer snap up the land for profit-making properties, the association has decided to have a go themselves at building exactly what the community wants to see.

Bill said: “I think, through the community association, with a lot of the local residents involved, it’s in our interests to design and build the housing in a way that enhances all of the estate, rather than seeing something happen in the future which doesn’t do that.

“It’s not just a case of ‘we want to build houses’. We want like to see housing as a solution to some of the other problems in the area.

“It’s revamping and improving a challenged neighbourhood in Leeds. Creating sustainable and good quality housing certainly helps with other things like the crime and safety aspects of the estate.”

The group has secured a £75,000 grant from national fund Power to Change to develop proposals to build up to 12 homes on the estate.

The plan is for the whole plot to become affordable rented housing, with rent set at around 80 per cent of market rate.

Discussions are ongoing over who will live in the homes but bosses are currently studying a similar set-up in Hull, where 50 per cent of tenants came from the council’s housing lists and the other 50 per cent applied through the community association.

Bill said lots of public consultation is being planned to make sure the estate’s residents are involved every step of the way.

“We’ll have door to door conversations, public events, some co-design sessions - all to determine what they would like to see on the land.

“Hopefully it will generate a really special community-led scheme which the community will be proud of and will address the issues in the area.”