St Helens’ biggest social housing provider has secured a landmark £90m deal to help build hundreds of new homes.
In a huge boost to the local economy, Helena Partnerships announced this week they had struck a deal to build 1,400 new affordable homes – including 900 in St Helens.
Plans remain at an early stage, but a further 200 homes are set to be built in neighbouring Warrington as well as 300 in other parts of the North West.
Helena, already one of the largest developers of much-needed affordable new homes in the North West – including its award-winning Ratcliffe Park development in Rainhill – secured the £90m loan from Warrington Council.
It is the largest loan the authority has ever awarded to a housing association.
A spokeswoman for Helena said the organisation did not yet know whereabouts in the borough the homes would be built.
Helena Partnerships’ chief executive, Rob Young, was eager to spell out the benefits to St Helens.
He said: “Helena’s roots and history are in St Helens and the company remains as committed as ever to the promises made almost 12 years ago before the stock transfer from St Helens Council. This investment reinforces our commitment to providing suitable homes which people can afford in our hometown.
“We have been working with Warrington Council for the past few years after we were appointed their preferred development partner. This funding will help us realise our ambitions to create more than 1,400 social and affordable homes in the region, 900 of which will be in St Helens.”
He added: “The geographical links between St Helens and Warrington provide a real opportunity to positively influence the regional economy. It’s also great news for our customers and helps us map out the next phase of the company’s growth with greater certainty.”
Warrington Council leader Terry O’Neill hailed the partnership as “win-win” and told how the authority had stepped into the funding void created by the banking crisis.
He said: “This loan will help drive regeneration, stimulate house building and create jobs. It will bring much-needed affordable properties within reach of hundreds of families and help close the gap by bringing regeneration to deprived areas.
“Warrington Council has been one of the first local authorities to do this, but other councils are gradually starting to do the same. This is good news because there’s currently a shortage of long-term finance and, as a result, the UK is building about 100,000 new homes a year fewer than we actually need.
“It’s also good news for the local and regional economy because every £1 spent on house building leads to £4 being spent in the wider economy.”