The new neighbourhood will eventually be home to 1,520 refurbished council properties and around 1,000 new houses and apartments, delivered under license from Manchester City Council using an umbrella Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract.
To raise funding for the project, we formed the Renaissance consortium with ourselves as developer, Adactus HA to manage the affordable housing, external funders Dexia and equity providers Morgan Sindall Investments Limited, Investors in the Community and Adactus.
This approach allowed us to use the in-house financial expertise provided by our sister company MSIL to negotiate the complex PFI arrangements and ensure highly competitive and beneficial rates from the equity and debt providers. The PFI also means that the project does not count against the council’s borrowing targets.
Before starting work, we carried out extensive community consultation events at local venues to explain the project, show the choices on offer for refurbished properties, highlight the design improvements and discuss the new build designs and ideas for the public open spaces.
The neighbourhood plan created as a result of the consultation programme is used to ensure the scheme continues to meet local needs. A steering group oversees the project, with representatives from the council, New East Manchester, Adactus, councillors, residents and the Renaissance Consortium.
We completed the refurbishment programme in 2010, installing new kitchens and bathrooms, double glazing, rewiring and central heating. We also fully refurbished seven high rise towers externally and internally, creating a new 20-flat extra care extension and community facilities at one block to meet the authority’s DFA2 disability criteria.
The first phase of new-build properties, the £5.3 million Gener8 project, was completed in April 2012 and delivered 53 two and three-storey homes including 11 for rent through Adactus Housing Association, 20 for sale through HomeBuy Direct and 22 for open market sale. The remaining homes will be built in a number of phases over a 12-year programme.
In early 2014 we began work at Faraday Green, the first of the ‘Platting Village’ sites which will create a modern urban community of two, three and four-bedroom homes for open market sale, with canal walks and leafy open squares.
Faraday Green completed in 2016, delivering 75 new homes. Bramah Place launched in 2015 and now provides a further 95 properties while the latest phase of 73 homes, Lockside, launched in May 2017. The next phase, Weaver Park, started in 2018.
This new housing is interspersed with existing properties across the estate, allowing the new schemes to integrate with the existing community and improving the general area.
We are creating seven new parks as well as landscaped public spaces, three play areas, revamped pedestrian links, new hedgerows, shrubs and green corridors. We also planted 150 new trees in the park running along the nearby Rochdale Canal. When the project is completed, there will be three times the number of trees on the site as when we began work, with 175 new trees planted in the first three phases alone. As part of the overall project, we have undertaken an apprentice programme for local young people. Twenty apprentices have worked on the project to date. The apprentices are closely mentored by our dedicated trainee co-ordinator to make sure they get the most out of their courses.
This programme was recognised with two national Homes and Communities Agency awards in 2009, the Award for Excellence and the Skills for Better Places Award, which were presented by former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.
The judging panel described the training as “an excellent project demonstrating an innovative approach to staff recruitment and training through the use of apprenticeships”. The Co-operative Group, which chose Miles Platting for the Excellence award, said that it had “succeeded in going above and beyond its contractual obligations, resulting in a scheme that was having a demonstrable impact on the local community”.
We make sure that all our subcontractors are committed to employing local people and supporting and mentoring local trainees, which we reinforce by asking them to sign up to a pledge of commitment.