Ninety-three homes for social rent and shared ownership in St Albans to become available shortly
Ninety-three newly-built flats in St Albans City Centre are to be taken over by one of Hertfordshire’s leading housing associations.
St Albans City and District Council has built the flats along with commercial space as part of a £64 million regeneration project.
The Council is now in the final stages of negotiating the sale of all the residential properties at the Jubilee Square development to Watford Community Housing.
Watford Community Housing plans to make 33 available for social rent and sell 60 of the 93 apartments on a shared-ownership basis with support from Homes England.
The Council’s initial plan was to sell 63 of these properties at market rate, but this deal will give young people and key workers in the District the chance to obtain a home of their own at an affordable price in an iconic location.
Moreover, the flats have excellent transport links being only a few minutes’ walk away from St Albans City railway station.
The remaining 33 social rent flats will be available to people already on the Council’s housing register as was originally planned.
Details of the sale should be finalised and contracts exchanged within the next few days.
Councillor Chris White, the Council Leader, said:
I am pleased that we have been able to sell the apartments to Watford Community Housing as it is an excellent deal for our residents.
It provides an opportunity for young people and key workers to be able to purchase some of the flats on shared ownership terms, something we were unable to do as a Council.
The other flats will be social rent properties, which we always intended, and we will have the right to nominate the tenants. They will come from our housing register.
Councillor Robert Donald, Chair of the Council's Regeneration and Business Committee, said:
The sale of 60 residential properties as shared ownership homes is good news especially for young people starting on lower incomes who can’t afford the full cost of purchasing these flats on day one but will pay part mortgage and part rent.
Providing 33 socially rented flats is also good news for those who have been on the Council’s waiting list, in some cases for a long time.
And it is also good news because it makes sound business sense for us and for our residents in the current economic climate with rising interest rates, to sell all the properties to a single purchaser with a track record of professional property and social housing experience.
Given present uncertainty about a downturn in the housing market, by selling all the flats in a single transaction we obtain a guaranteed amount for the Council.
We also avoid the risk of not obtaining the prices originally forecast on the open market and accumulating extra costs if the properties only sell slowly one by one over many months.
This arrangement with Watford Community Housing is a win win for the Council.
It not only gives us a guaranteed capital sum but also means 60 flats will be sold as a shared ownership scheme allowing those who could not otherwise afford to buy their own home in St Albans to do so.
Helen Town, Group Director for Property and Partnerships at Watford Community Housing, said:
We are delighted to be acquiring Jubilee Square. Partnership working between housing associations and local councils is vital to the delivery of affordable homes for all, and we are so pleased to be able to provide for the residents of St Albans. This is a fantastic opportunity and one which we are proud to be a part of. We will be advertising the shared ownership homes soon, so watch this space!
The Jubilee Square development, formerly known as the City Centre Opportunity Site South, is due to be completed in the late spring by construction contractors Morgan Sindall. The design of the buildings was originally chosen by the public following an architectural competition.
It consists of two iconic blocks of mixed residential and commercial space, off Victoria Street, on the site of the city’s former police station and an NHS clinic.
The 5,000 square metres of commercial space will be rented out by the Council through agents Aitchison Raffety.
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