A consortium of Midlands-based social landlords is celebrating the start on site of a development that will bring its tally of new homes to 2000.
Green Square Accord (GSA), a member of the Matrix Housing Partnership (MHP) has started work on its Swan Lane development in West Bromwich.
The homes – all 2000 of them and counting – have been (or are being) delivered as a result of the consortium’s strategic partnership with Homes England.
In 2018, Homes England awarded MHP £84.5m to support the delivery of 2,124 social and affordable homes across the West Midlands, and South West England.
Ruth Cooke, MHP’s chair, and the chief executive of GSA, said: “It is an honour for the Matrix Housing Partnership to be recognised as a key strategic partner of Homes England. We have been collaborating for nearly 20 years and the construction start at Swan Lane demonstrates our continued success in delivering affordable homes.
“It was fantastic to see shovels in the ground at Swan Lane. This exciting new scheme will deliver almost 150 much-needed affordable homes in West Bromwich.
“Swan Lane is a special development as it will deliver the 2000th affordable home by the Matrix Housing Partnership since we first secured strategic partner funding from Homes England in 2018.
“This milestone demonstrates that despite all the challenges in recent years for our sector, we can still pull together and deliver high quality homes for our communities.
“On behalf of all the Matrix Partners, I would like to thank Sandwell Council, Homes England, and MORRO Partnerships for their invaluable support for this scheme.”
The MHP comprises GSA, Black Country Housing Group, Citizen Housing Group, Pioneer Housing and Community Group, Rooftop Housing Association and Trident Housing Association.
In October 2021, it also secured £185m from the UK Government’s Affordable Homes Programme to support a further 2,167 affordable homes, which will start before April 2026.
A spokesperson from Homes England said: “Homes England are proud to support GSA in delivering their development at Swan Lane. The scheme will provide much needed affordable housing to the area, providing a variety of tenures and house types to reflect local needs.
“In addition, the start of the Swan Lane development will see the 2000th home being built as part of the ongoing relationship between Homes England and the Matrix Consortium through the Strategic Partnership. Demonstrating how partnership working can enable delivery even in the most challenging of times.”
The Swan Lane development, which is being built by MORRO Partnerships on behalf of GSA, will provide 147 homes for affordable and social rent. The development will meet a variety of local housing need by providing 41 two- and 24 three-bedroom houses, and 17 one- and 65 two-bedroom apartments.
Chris Timmins, managing director at MORRO Partnerships, said: “We’re delighted to have commenced work at Swan Lane, which is an important development providing much-needed affordable housing in the Sandwell area.
“As a developer, we’re committed to being better community and environment makers, so to be building so many affordable homes with sustainability at their core is incredibly rewarding.
“We’re looking forward to producing high-quality homes at Swan Lane, and fostering a great new community in the region.”
Sandwell Council is a key partner on the Swan Lane development who assisted with a successful bid for a £3.2m grant from the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership to support the delivery of the scheme.
Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and WMCA, councillor Peter Hughes, said: “I am delighted that work is starting on this important development. Affordable housing such as this is key to tackle the housing crisis and homelessness and provide residents with a step onto the housing ladder.
“This shows Sandwell Council’s determination to achieve its Vision 2030 pledge to meet a full range of housing needs in attractive neighbourhoods and close to key transport routes.”
Sustainability built in
GSA says it has designed sustainability into the heart of its Swan Lane development with plans to plant plenty of trees, and install electric vehicle charging points throughout the site. The development will contain “generous” amounts of open space complete with a pond to support local wildlife.
The new homes at Swan Lane will be constructed using prefabricated open-panel timber frames supplied by LoCaL Homes – a low carbon manufacturing facility based in Walsall.
Mike Doolan, sales and partnerships manager at LoCaL Homes, said: “We are thrilled to be a part of the transformation of the former Swan Lane gas works, creating much needed affordable housing for West Bromwich.
“By constructing the houses using LoCaL Homes’ Eco-100 timber frame panel system in a quality-controlled factory environment, the overall speed of construction will be accelerated thus resulting in quicker handovers and earlier occupancy.
“As the home’s fabric is made from a sustainable material it will capture more carbon than traditional methods of construction and will be much more thermally efficient. This will subsequently help with the running costs resulting in lower fuel bills for customers.”
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