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Coalition approval gives boost to the poorest areas of Leeds

An ambitious plan which would see to two of the poorest inner city areas in Leeds totally transformed has finally got Government approval. Councillors are delighted because the hold-up was costing around £1m a month due to rising costs.

The PFI (Private Finance Initiative) project which will totally revitalise the Little London and Holbeck areas had been delayed as it was subject to a Government Value for Money review. At long last the Treasury has given the green light for the £181m scheme and the council have appointed their preferred bidder (Sustainable Communities for Leeds). It is expected that the Coalition will sign the contract early in the New Year, enabling the work to start in the spring of next year. Sustainable Communities for Leeds will be building four hundred new council properties which will all be protected by a landlord insurance quote as well as refurbishing another 1,200 existing council homes and making some major environmental improvements to the area.

Councillor Keith Wakefield said: “This is a massive project for the city, representing investment of £180m in deprived inner city areas, so it is a huge relief that the Government have finally given us the go-ahead. We always had faith that this was a very strong project, which has made the hold-ups all the more difficult to accept. It is tremendous that we are now in a position to move forward. Hopefully this will bring an end to the uncertainty for the communities involved.”

The 20-year PFI contract will also include a repairs and maintenance service for all of the newly built and refurbished council homes. The delays in getting the approval for this project have been frustrating for everybody. The project will not just transform the communities; it will also provide job opportunities for the area over the next few years.

By Simon Dack

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