Making Cheshire-living affordable

22nd January 2019

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Fantastic schools, great transport links, stunning scenery and steeped in history, who wouldn’t want to live in Cheshire? But herein lies the problem; a lot of people IN North West England want to live in Cheshire – but an ever-decreasing number of people can afford to do so. Having been a social housing provider in the area since 2002, we are well aware that the image portrayed by the glossy county magazines of leafy Cheshire, home to the footballers and their glam wives, is only the half-truth. In reality it’s a hugely diverse area. Home to some of the most affluent areas in the North West, these pockets of extreme wealth are flanked by communities of significant deprivation. A few miles away from millionaires’ row you’ll find families relying on foodbanks. But nevertheless, the plains of Cheshire are hugely desirable. People are desperate to live here - driving up house prices and resulting in significant competition for development land. As a result, many local people – people who have grown up here, people who have generations of families here – are being priced out of the housing market. With an average house price of more than £250,000, it’s not difficult to see why. But we are trying to work towards a solution.  This week we launched Prospa Homes - our shared-ownership and sales arm, with a vision to make Cheshire-living more affordable. Building homes in Cheshire is difficult. Building affordable homes even more so. With the rising price of land, delivering developments that are financially viable will be a challenge, but it’s a challenge we’re ready for. As a largely rural area - developing in rural communities brings with it its own set of challenges. Fierce opposition, NIMBY movements and difficulty securing contractors are inevitable, but we are 100% committed to working with existing communities to deliver the right type of housing that people need. The housing crisis is well documented. Demand is massively outstripping supply, with the Government calling for 300,000 new homes built every year nationally in order to meet current demand. Here at WVHT, we’ve committed to building 500 homes by 2021 to help tackle the housing crisis. Prospa Homes will support this ambition by offering a ‘best in class’ customer experience for those wishing to purchase a high-quality shared ownership home in Cheshire.  If the area wasn’t desirable enough already - major developments such as HS2, the Manchester Airport extension and the Northern Powerhouse, are only going to increase demand. Our range of multi-tenure development schemes in the pipeline will help ensure Cheshire living is not just for the rich and famous. We are about delivering homes to those in need, and we are proud to be diversifying our housing offer in our heartland. With profits reinvested back into the organisation, we can support regeneration and create more affordable homes for people to rent or buy or both in the communities we already serve. That also means money invested in Cheshire is recycled locally and we can continue to do more to support local people and their communities. Our extensive portfolio of homes and commercial assets, coupled with increased financial capacity, having refinanced last year, means we are well placed to accelerate our development programme.  We also play a key role in JV North - a consortium of Registered Providers in the North West who are set to deliver close to 5,000 new homes by 2021. Providing affordable homes for people is our ‘raison d'etre’, and operating in an area where there are so many pressures on demand, it is absolutely crucial that we play our part in tackling the housing crisis. Prospa Homes will be integral to us doing this.

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