Priority Homes

Priority Homes - Putting Affordable Housing First

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Latest news:

Keep up-to-date with the latest project developments, visit www.kingsmoorpark.com

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Refurbishment of Enacot, Moor Lane

Because of Enacot’s location down Moor Lane, Surrey County Council has asked us to post the following statement on our web pages.

Surrey County Council has commissioned refurbishment works to a house in its ownership, known as Enacot, in Moor Lane.

The contractor for these works, Walker Construction UK Ltd, will be starting on site on 10 March; it is estimated they will take 13 weeks to complete.

Walker Construction has delivered a letter to residents of nearby properties in Moor Lane. Walker Construction is aware of the sensitivities of large vehicles going down Moor Lane and their operators will try to be as considerate to the local residents as possible, for example, because Moor Lane is a narrow road, deliveries of steels and bricks will not be on the back of articulated lorries. Working hours will be limited to 7.30am to 5pm with no noisy activity prior to 8am.

Any queries about these works should be directed to the full time Enacot site manager who will be on site (at Enacot) during the contract period. Walker Construction’s Head Office can be contacted on 01303 851111.

Just to be clear, Enacot is not and has never been part of the Kingsmoor Park Development, and it does not therefore form part of the planning application for the Kingsmoor Park development.

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Replacement tree works in Balfour Avenue

Work will commence on Monday 10 February to replace the nine lime trees that were removed along the north side of Balfour Avenue in February 2013. These trees had been removed to enable the road widening works that are now completed.

The tree replacement works will take place between 8am and 4pm. There should be minimal disruption to traffic flow along Balfour Avenue. The planting is expected to take no more than three days to complete.

The type of replacement tree and location of the trees has been approved by the Woking Borough Council's Arboricultural Officer in consultation with Surrey County Council. The trees chosen are Tilia Cordata Greenspire (Lime), a non-drip lime tree which will look similar to the other trees in the road.

These works are being carried out now, because it is the planting season which runs between November and March. Any queries, please contact Priority Homes on 01483 743891.

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Priority Homes newsletter: construction starts to deliver much needed family homes

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Moor Lane housing development - statement from Ray Morgan, Woking Borough Council's Chief Executive.

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Evolution Public Event

Evolution held two informal public events in January 2013 to introduce themselves, and to get feedback from local residents and interested parties on the emerging development proposals. Residents may previously have seen their proposals at public consultation days held in March and September 2009.

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Priority Homes PFI project contractor selected

Woking Borough Council announced on 14 November 2012 Evolution as its preferred bidder to build a mixed tenure housing development, north of Moor Lane, Woking.

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What is Priority Homes?

Providing affordable housing is one of Woking Borough Council's highest priorities and 'Priority Homes - Putting Affordable Housing First' is a Housing Private Finance Initiative (PFI) project to help meet this need.

This project provides a great opportunity to deliver much-needed affordable housing for the Borough, so we are pursuing this option with enthusiasm.

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What is PFI?

A Private Finance Initiative or PFI is one form of public private partnership that is used for projects that require a lot of money. PFI has been used for many years to successfully build new schools, roads, prisons and hospitals. Since 1999, PFI has enabled councils to secure a large amount of private money which can be used to build new homes or improve existing ones. This is called Housing PFI.

There are tight controls on how councils can raise and spend money. At present, there are few ways a council can raise enough money to pay for the cost of building new council homes on its own.

PFI is a government programme to bring private investment into social housing by allowing local authorities to work with a partnership of specialist organisations to build new homes or improve properties already owned by the Council. This partnership usually includes:

  • a Housing Association, Registered Social Landlord (RSL) or housing provider

  • a construction company

  • a funder.

The partnership is also known as the PFI Contractor. The PFI Contractor usually enters into a 25 to 30-year contract with a local authority to design, finance, build, manage and maintain the properties to a high standard as specified by the Council.

The PFI Contractor is paid a fixed fee for these services and can lose some of its fee if the properties do not meet the standards.

A PFI project can be good for a local authority because it means that a council can make use of their partners' areas of expertise, such as building homes or raising money. The risk involved in building and financing new homes within budget and on time is taken by the contractor. If a project does not meet the standards, the contractor does not get the full payment agreed.

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Why use Housing PFI in Woking?

Currently, there is a greater need for affordable homes than there is supply.

House prices in Woking are higher than the national average and this means that average incomes in the Borough are not enough for people to buy a family home in the area.

Research carried out in 2003 by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation showed that Woking is one of 40 least affordable local authorities to buy a home. Over 75% of working households in Woking, where the household representative is aged from 20 to 39, are unable to afford a home at the lower end of the price scale, on household income alone. This puts even more pressure on the affordable homes coming on to the market and means continued demand for homes in the Borough.

Over the last few years, Woking Borough Council has introduced many measures to increase the supply of affordable homes in the Borough. These include:

  • Working with private developers and housing associations to build homes which are let to households on Hometrak.

  • Working with owners of empty homes to bring them back into use.

  • Working with private landlords to secure long-term lets for their properties, such as through the Private Rented Scheme and Private Sector Leasing Scheme.

  • Working pro-actively to prevent homelessness through our Housing Options team.

  • Reviewing our Core Strategy to require higher levels of affordable housing on new development sites.

Despite all these initiatives, 499 new affordable homes are needed each year, for the next five years, to meet the growing housing need in the Borough.

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Tell me more about Woking's Housing PFI project

Woking has secured approval for 40.5 million worth of PFI funding from the Department of Communities and Local Government (CLG). Following submission of the Outline Business Case (OBC), approved in 2008, the Council has managed a competitive process to select a PFI contractor partner to build the homes and then manage and maintain them for an agreed period. As a result of this bidding process, in November 2012, the Council was pleased to announce Evolution as the preferred bidder.

The OBC provided supporting evidence to justify why Woking's PFI bid is the best way to provide at least 190 affordable rented homes in the Borough and that there are no better or cheaper ways of providing these much needed homes for local families.

Evolution's proposal is to build around 224 predominantly family homes which will be let at affordable social rents to applicants on the Council's Housing Register and will be allocated through Hometrak, the Council's Choice Based Lettings system. The homes will be part of a mixed tenure development of 371 homes, built on a 9.5 hectare site north of Moor Lane in Westfield.

Only once the homes have been built and are occupied by the tenants will the PFI funding be paid in monthly instalments to the Council by the Government over the 25-year period of the contract. The Council will then use this funding, plus a council contribution, to pay Evolution, the PFI contractor.

Tenants of these new homes will be Thames Valley Housing Association tenants not Woking Borough Council tenants. Tenants will not be able to buy these homes and therefore they will remain as affordable housing in the Borough.

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Where will the homes be built in Woking?

The new homes will be built on a single site in the Borough. The site, in Westfield, has been identified following a thorough review of all the available options. The site, north of Moor Lane has been reserved for future housing development for a long time. The boundary for the site was adopted in the 1993 Local Plan.

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What will be built at Moor Lane?

There will be a range of property types and sizes in line with the Borough's demand for housing but most will be family homes. The development will be a mix of social rented and private sale housing.

Planning consent for the development has now been granted. It is intended that the development on the site to the north of Moor Lane will improve the local environment, create a sustainable community, as well as provide much needed housing for people of the Borough.

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What has happened so far?

In June 2008, the Council advertised for a private sector partner to take this development forward.

Eight responses were received from potential partners (bidders) and after various stages of selection prescribed by European legislation and a very thorough competitive process two bidders remained:

Evolution

a partnership between Thames Valley Housing Association and Kier

Place

a partnership between Southern Housing Association and Wates

Members of the public had the opportunity to view detailed proposals from the two remaining bidders at public consultation days held in March and September 2009.

In November 2009, an application for access onto the site was granted planning permission by the Planning Committee. In February 2010, an application was made for the exchange of 387 sq m of Common Land to facilitate one of the access points and, in July 2010, a Public Inquiry into the exchange of Common Land took place. The application was refused.

On 25 October 2011 an application was made for the release of 387 sq m of Common Land in exchange for 1174 sq m of replacement land to facilitate one of the access points. This application addressed concerns raised in the initial application made in February 2010. After another Public Inquiry in July 2012, the application was refused.

Final tenders were submitted by the remaining bidders in July 2012 and after a very thorough evaluation process the Council was pleased to announce Evolution as the preferred bidder in November 2012.

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When can I see plans/designs?

Evolution held two public exhibitions in January 2013 to gather feedback from local residents on their plans before submitting a detailed planning application. A copy of the exhibition boards displayed at these events can be seen here.

In early 2013 there was a detailed planning phase during which any issues relating to the development were addressed and designs worked up.

The Council will work closely with Evolution while they build the homes. After that Thames Valley Housing will manage and maintain the homes over the 25 year contract period.

The first new homes are likely to be ready for occupation in early 2015.

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What will happen with regards to flooding?

The risk of flooding on the development area is considered to represent a small part of the site, at its eastern edge. This area has been set aside as public open space to minimise the risk of homes flooding.

During the detailed planning process, Evolution has had to demonstrate to the Environment Agency that development of the site does not increase the risk of flooding to other properties. We are aware of the concerns of local residents and have ensured that these are addressed.

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What will happen with regards to roads?

As part of the detailed planning process, discussions took place with the County Highways Authority regarding access to the site, transport assessments and the likely impact on local roads. The road widening works are now underway which will ensure that the access to the site is suitable and that the effect on local roads is acceptable in highway terms.

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What will happen with regards to drainage and water provisions?

Drainage and water provision have been examined as part of the detailed planning process. A drainage assessment was undertaken to ensure that any risk of flooding is minimised. The relevant agencies and authorities, including the Environment Agency and the water and sewerage authorities were consulted to ensure that drainage and water provision is sustainable and satisfactory.

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What will happen with regards to schools, health provision, other facilities etc?

As part of the detailed planning process, the relevant agencies and authorities, including the County Education Authority and the Surrey Primary Care Trust, were consulted on these matters to ensure that any infrastructure needs such as these arising from the development will be met. Residents also had the opportunity to comment on what they thought will be needed as part of the consultation and detailed planning processes.

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What consultation will there be with residents?

To ensure the success of the project, the Council and Evolution will communicate with local people at key stages to give them ample opportunity to express any concerns.

Where appropriate, Evolution have and will continue to hold public workshops, issue newsletters and provide web updates at key stages.

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How have residents been able to take part in the detailed planning process?

There have been a number of opportunities for residents to be involved in the detailed planning process. These are set out in the Council's Statement of Community Involvement, which sets out how the local community and other interested people and organisations will be involved in planning applications, as well as in the preparation of the planning policy documents that are part of the Council's Local Development Framework now known as Woking 2027.

When the application was received, the Council notified by letter those residents likely to be affected by the proposal, as well as placing a notice on the site and in the local press, inviting views on the proposal. All the comments received were addressed by the Council and reported to the Planning Committee before the final decision was taken.

The Statement of Community Involvement is also available to view at the Council's Civic Offices, at libraries throughout the Borough and paper copies can be provided on request.

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What is the timetable for the way forward?

Subject to approval at each stage, the key dates for the project are as follows:

2012

Bidders asked to submit Final Tender

Jun 2012

Final Bids Received

Jul 2012

Final Business Case (FBC) submitted to Communities and Local Government

The FBC provided summarised documentary evidence as to how the Contract achieved through the Competitive Dialogue process has met the objectives and key criteria developed stated in the Outline Business Case.

Oct 2012

Preferred Bidder Announced

Nov 2012

2013

Detailed Planning Application approved

Apr

2013

Site preparation work starts

Aug

2013

Building of the homes commences

Oct

2013

2015

First tenants move in

early 2015

Please note: The above timetable may be subject to change.

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Where can I feedback my views/comments?

If you have any comments regarding the Priority Homes project please contact us:

Online comments and queries form

Priority Homes
Woking Borough Council
Civic Offices
Gloucester Square
Woking
Surrey
GU21 6YL

Phone: 01483 755855

Email: priorityhomes@woking.gov.uk

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Useful contacts

The following links to external websites may be of interest to you.

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More in Priority Homes

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Also in Housing Strategies and Policies: