North Huyton Communities Future & Knowsley Housing Trust – a partnership approach to housing

North Huyton Communities Future (NHCF) is the successor body to North Huyton’s New Deal for Communities programme, which ran from 2001 -2011. As part of that Programme NHCF, Knowsley Housing Trust (KHT) and Knowsley Council created the ‘Revive’ programme to clear around 1,200 (mostly social) empty properties in the area, replacing them with 1,500 mostly new build houses.

This programme has helped stabilise key estates in the area but there are still certain streets that are vulnerable to dereliction for several local reasons. NHCF sought to help these ‘hot spot’ streets by using its reserves to buy up 13 long-term private empty homes, using a central government funded Empty Homes Grant of around £20,000 per property, to renovate them.

However, there were still around 20 KHT units within their North Huyton stock that were long-term empty, and unlettable by them. NHCF demonstrated in its initial empty homes programme that it could renovate, let and manage difficult properties using a community based letting scheme, informed through local contacts.

NHCF has, therefore, negotiated with KHT to take over management and lettings of ten of these long-term empty properties as a pilot scheme. The lease is initially for 10 years for a peppercorn rent after which, the properties return to KHT if NHCF does not wish to extend the lease. NHCF pays for the refurbishment but keeps all the rental income. The average cost of the refurbishments will be around £20,000 if done through sub-contractors.

NHCF are looking to set up a Learning Company in partnership with Knowsley Community College, to employ four apprentices and a supervisor to undertake most of the refurbishment works. NHCF has secured Big Potential funding to progress a business plan to both extend its residential portfolio and initiate the Learning Company as a Community Interest Company.

Once agreed, the business plan will be presented to both Knowsley Council and KHT who are potential social finance funders, although NHCF has the asset base to take this proposal to the commercial market if required.

NHCF is looking to start both the acquisition of properties and the formation of the Learning Company in the first two quarters of 2018.

Find out more about community-led housing