In creating a mixed tenure estate where home owners would live alongside council tenants, this project saw a proactive approach to social inclusion. It picked up a Gold award in the Best Operational Project category of the 2018 PPP Partnerships Awards.
Leeds City Council
£37m (original project cost)
The Swarcliffe Estate consists of approximately 4,000 homes with just under 1,400 council tenanted properties. Most of the houses in the estate were built in the 1950s and 1960s. Sherburn Court, a street on the estate, remains as the only high rise after demolition programmes in the 1990s and 2000s brought down 9 blocks. In 2005, a private finance initiative (PFI) between Leeds City Council and Yorkshire Transformations Limited saw a massive regeneration of the Swarcliffe area, intended to help narrow the gap between the more affluent and poorer parts of the city. In creating a mixed tenure estate where home owners would live alongside council tenants, the initiative saw a proactive approach to social inclusion.
More than 300 empty council homes were demolished and 460 new homes were built on the cleared sites. Of these, 110 properties were made available for council tenants. The spaces left by the demolition have allowed private developers to popularise and regenerate the estate. Through continuous, active management, Vercity helped ensure that expenditure was optimised and risk exposure reduced. Today, we continue to address the relevant technical and financial aspects of the project, ensuring asset replacement programmes are properly coordinated, controlled and supported.
Repair work to existing properties included replacement of windows, doors, kitchens, bathrooms, central heating systems and rewiring. Public open spaces, car parking and the road network were also improved as part of the PFI scheme. Our established consultancy services provide support to project teams internally, working closely to deliver a high-quality service to tenants. We work closely with third parties to ensure processes and workflows are optimised and liaise with local authorities to minimise empty homes. Through effective collaboration, we help deliver repairs and replacement works at short notice and often on a large scale, with minimal impact to tenants. In developing strategic partnerships, we’ve helped create sustainable communities while maintaining positive public sector relationships.
Swarcliffe is now an extremely popular area of Leeds, with more than 300 bids on each council house that becomes available for rent and with an average waiting time of 18 months. When houses are put up for sale, they usually sell within one week. Average property prices in the estate are bucking the trend for Leeds and increased by 30% in the years following refurbishment. Adjacent new build properties in the estate are selling for £280k.
More than 1,350 council-owned properties across Swarcliffe have been refurbished over the course of the last decade. This project picked up a Gold award in the Best Operational Project category of the 2018 Partnerships Awards. Open to organisations and projects in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, the awards recognise the best in collaborative working between the public and private sectors.
Environmental Social Governance
In August 2016, a joint partnership between the Swarcliffe Estates PFI Team and LCC Youth Offending Team proved a great success when young offenders undertook community work on the estate, repainting railings while also improving their skills and experience.
The Swarcliffe project has also supported the Youth Matters Group by providing the community centre with a new greenhouse and planters. MSPS are also running an initiative in collaboration with Harlow College where tenants of Swarcliffe are being offered the opportunity to train, and obtain a CSCS Card free of charge. The course will be available for at least the next two academic years and can be completed by individuals at a time convenient to themselves from the comfort of their homes.
“This partnership isn’t just about houses and flats, it’s about homes, health and well-being. I know it sounds like a bit of a cliché, but the ‘whole’ really is bigger than the ‘sum of the parts’ in Swarcliffe. We’re creating a legacy for our community here and we’re doing it together”
Nicola Holbrook, Housing PFI Team Leader, Leeds City Council