£40m Leeds plan is hit by credit crunch

The credit crunch has forced Leeds Jewish Housing Association to rethink the £40 million redevelopment of its Queenshill estate in Moortown.

Association chairman Arnold Zermansky told its annual meeting that uncertainty in the housing market had prompted some revision of the plans.

Chief executive Sheila Saunders pointed out that "in the current financial climate, no scheme would go ahead without government subsidy".

Speaking to the JC afterwards, Ms Saunders pointed out that the original intention had been to sell a significant proportion of the properties to generate income for the remainder of the project. But that was before the collapse of the housing market.

"An added pressure is that the credit crunch has increased our customer base. So we are pushing forward the parts of the scheme that we can."

Ms Saunders explained that LJHA had consulted tenants, community members, Leeds City Council and government funding agencies about the regeneration of the 14-acre Queenshill estate and its 280 properties.

The masterplan is to demolish 200 pre-1980 properties over the next decade and replace them with 400 new homes.

Phase one will now incorporate the building of 60 one- and two-bedroomed sheltered housing flats for the elderly and 25 three- and four-bedroomed family homes.

Forty per cent of LJHA tenants are aged under 60 and 10 per cent are families. "The parents are all working but could not afford to live among the Jewish community without our involvement," Ms Saunders said.

"If we were to offer 25 new three- or four-bedroomed homes tomorrow, my housing manager would have filled them by the following morning.

"We are also dealing with the ‘nouveau poor', graduates and young couples who are struggling to get on the housing ladder."

The plans have been presented to the Housing Corporation for funding consideration but the response is not expected until January.

Guest speaker at the annual meeting was Derek Long, the northern head of the National Housing Federation, who praised the association and its community connections as "a model for any housing association nationwide".

    Last updated: 4:33pm, August 17 2009