Leeds: £180m revamp of homes still waiting for deal to be done

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Tenants are still waiting for a major £180m housing regeneration scheme to start nine months after it won government approval.

Council bosses have admitted that contracts have still to be signed for the Little London and Holbeck and Beeston Hill Private Finance Initiative (PFI) project.

There was joy in the neighbourhoods in March when it was announced the long-awaited scheme had cleared its final hurdle and got the go ahead from ministers.

Work proposed includes the refurbishment of 1,245 council homes, construction of 388 council properties and environmental improvements.

There were fears for the scheme during the summer when it emerged one of the lenders due to provide funds had pulled out. The council stepped in to plug the £40m gap arguing that providing money up front would, over the 25-year period of the PFI contract, save the authority money.

Under PFI, the council pays an annual charge to the consortium carrying out the development.

Following government approval in March there were suggestions work could be underway by July.

But with contracts still to be signed it is still not clear when work will start.

Coun Peter Gruen, executive councillor for housing, said: “Over the time there have been a number of set backs, such as one of the lenders withdrawing, but we are now doing everything we possible can to bring about a financial close to this.”

He said he hoped contracts would be signed “within months” but was reluctant to give a more definite timetable.

Coun Gruen said: “I don’t want to give false hope to people.”

The progress of the scheme was raised at a recent meeting of the full council.

In a question to Coun Gruen, Coun Rod Wood (Con, Calverley and Farsley) asked if the project was on course to be delivered on time and on budget.

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