Building a brighter future for Bolton
Our ambitious five-year plan to build 1,400-homes across Bolton and beyond is gathering pace. Our Director of Development, Dominic Conway, talks us through the programme and explains how local people will benefit.
“Just like other towns across the country, Bolton is experiencing a severe shortage of housing to rent and buy,” says Dominic. “But changes to Government funding means we can now do more to help tackle the local housing crisis. Our focus will be on providing a wide choice of good-quality, affordable homes in areas where people need them most.
“Our plans will also see us working with private developers, where planning agreements require homes for affordable rent to be built as part of a larger housing scheme. For example, at The Vistas development in Westhoughton, private developer Bellway is building homes for sale, and we’re providing 34 homes for affordable rent and 11 homes for shared ownership.”
There are some standalone projects underway too such as the 13 homes being built at Deane Close, Harper Green. Ten of these are bungalows and two will be specially adapted for people with disabilities.
Larger projects include Bolton Council’s £1 billion plan to remodel parts of the town centre. It involves building around 2,500 new homes over the next 10 years. “We have a 66-home development going into planning at Chorley Street with more to come,” says Dominic. “We’re also involved in a partnership project to regenerate Farnworth town centre. And we’re working with other local authorities and private developers to build homes in Wigan and across West Lancashire.”
Homes to buy
With more Government funding available for shared ownership development, we now have the opportunity to build homes for sale. Shared ownership offers a more affordable way to buy a home, and we know there’s a demand for it in the town.
Last year, the National Housing Federation said the average working person in Bolton would need a 38 per cent pay rise in order to afford a mortgage. But with shared ownership, buyers can secure a home with a much smaller deposit and mortgage.
“Our first shared ownership development, Park Grove, is underway in Westhoughton,” says Dominic. “We’re building 21 two and three bedroom homes which can each be bought for a minimum 30% share. Buyers then pay rent on the remaining share. These homes are proving to be popular with many sold already, including one to an existing Bolton at Home tenant.”
“Another similar 14-home development is due to start on site at Bromley Cross. This is an area where property prices are high so this scheme will give local people a viable route into home ownership.”
Dominic is quick to point out that, while more shared ownership development is on the way, the focus will be on building homes for affordable rent. “The money we get from the sale of homes will be used to build more affordable rented homes and regenerate communities, and that’s what we’ll be concentrating on,” he added.
“The money we get from the sale of homes will be used to build more affordable rented homes and regenerate communities.”
Meeting a 1,400-home target in a climate when construction costs are high and there’s a lack of skilled workers will be a challenge. But Dominic says the business is using innovation to overcome any obstacles: “We’ve been looking at options for off-site construction. We have approval for a scheme of 22 energy efficient homes for affordable rent, using a pre-manufacturer through ilke Homes. And we’re also looking at other suppliers of factory-built homes.
“This approach helps us to plug the skills shortage while providing good quality homes that, in the long run, will be cheaper to build. We’re also exploring ways to bring more skilled jobs into the local labour market. This includes offering training opportunities for our customers. We already have agreements with our contractors which require them to take on local apprentices in a range of trades.
“It’s an exciting time for us and our residents. Ultimately, we’re keen to secure development opportunities that give value for money while allowing us to generate more income, grow our housing stock and be able to offer a range of solutions for people with different needs. It’s about doing our best for the communities where we work, and providing urgently needed homes for local people,” he concludes.