Emh group – building Saffron Lane Community Housing

HACT Case Study: Housing Associations Supporting Community-Led Housing Developments

Update, 18 December 2014: Leicester eco-homes given green light

With over 18,000 homes across the East Midlands, emh group is one of the leading providers of affordable homes and specialist care and support services in the East Midlands. It comprises social landlord emh homes; Enable, a care provider, and Midlands Rural Housing. Over the years the Group has continued to increase its development programme to meet much needed affordable housing in rural and urban communities. It has also moved more towards a ‘Fabric First’ approach and has already developed its first PassivHaus homes in Long Eaton.

The Group with its 68 year tradition of working with local communities seemed a natural partner for Saffron Lane Neighbourhood Council (SLNC) – a long established community charity in south Leicester – when a significant development opportunity arose in 2012.

SLNC already successfully manages a 12 acre community food growing project (Saffron Acres) on land adjacent to a 13 acre former allotment site – the proposed development site owned by Leicester City Council (find out more about what Saffron Lane Neighbourhood Council are doing here).

Three years ago SLNC approached Leicester City Council, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and subsequently emh group, with a view to exploring the option of the Council transferring the 13 acre site for the development of 50 affordable eco homes.

Leicester City Council has agreed the transfer of the land to the Saffron Resource Centre for £1 on the basis of the development proposals and funding opportunities made available by emh group.

Emh group


Green homes for Saffron Lane. Work is starting on Heathcott Road, off Saffron Lane, Leicester. From left: Chan Kataria (emh group Chief Executive), Chris Beighton (Managing Director of Westleigh), Peter Soulsby (Leicester City Mayor) and Neil Hodgkin (Project manager at Saffron Lane Neighbourhood Council)

In partnership with emh group, SLNC has secured £1.55 million of funding through the HCA’s Affordable Homes Guarantee programme – to build 50 homes for phase 1.

Emh group will be contributing £252,000 of recycled capital grant and will borrow the remaining amount to meet the overall estimated scheme cost of £6.5 million.

At the time of writing a proposal for phase 2 to build an additional 18 homes was being considered by the HCA in its interim bidding round for 2014. The homes will be owned and managed by emh homes.

There is strong local support for the scheme. The local community has had significant input through SLNC who has worked closely with emh group to achieve the range of high quality PassivHaus homes that will make a big difference in the heart of the Saffron Lane community.

Site Layout

Subject to planning consent, Start on site is anticipated in February 2015 with completion by May 2016.

“This is very much a community focused and community driven project initiated by the SLNC and I welcome the strength of the partnership between ourselves, SLNC, Leicester City Council and the appointed developers Westleigh. As far as I am aware, this one of the largest projects of its kind in the country and will make a significant impact for local people”.

See for yourself: Saffron Lane Neighbourhood Council is building the biggest affordable passive haus community housing project in Europe. Action Homeless Leicester refurbishes empty homes to provide supported accommodation and resettlement services.