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Much needed homes to be built on former Kodak site

A £325million regeneration project in Harrow that aims to build a brand new community has been given the green light. The development will be built on 40 acres of land that was once the home of a Kodak factory.

The plan is to build at least 200 affordable homes that are earmarked for private landlords and social housing. The 10 year project will be delivered by developers, Land Securities. Early indications are that there will be also 1,500 new jobs created from the small to medium sized business enterprises that will move into the new employment space over the next 15 years. There is also a new primary school and health centre planned.

Harrow Council Portfolio Holder for Planning and Economic Development, Cllr Keith Ferry, said: “This is a once in a lifetime chance to create a positive future for this important site and will leave a long lasting legacy for future generations. This area is at the economic heart of the borough and essential for the prosperity of the whole of Harrow. Its future matters to everyone who lives here. Despite the difficult economic climate, the council has worked hard with Land Securities to ensure the surrounding area is able to enjoy the benefits of this new investment. These proposals will breathe new life into Harrow, create jobs and greatly enhance the public green space.”

The project will provide much needed homes for local people who can either buy, or rent from one of the many private landlords who have shown an interest in adding a property to their portfolio, protecting it with a landlord insurance quote and providing a home for a local family. This huge project is just part of Harrow Council’s long-term vision. The “Heart of Harrow” project aims to bring up to £1 billion of investment into the borough, including new businesses, new jobs, and new homes as well as delivering the infrastructure needed.

Private Landlords will Benefit from Next Year’s Bedroom Tax

There are fears that as many as 50,000 North East families are going to be affected by the ‘bedroom tax’. Figures from the NHF (National Housing Federation) highlight that housing associations across the North East do not have enough of the right-sized properties for the thousands of tenants who will fall foul of the new regulations.

One housing association alone estimates that 2,800 of its tenants will be classed as under-occupying their homes and they have only sixteen spare one-bed properties to move them to. This has seen a plea go out to all private landlords who have empty properties, to come forward and help with the situation. Local councils throughout the borough want as many of these properties as possible to be protected with a landlord insurance quote and used to house the affected tenants. The new under-occupation rules will not start until April next year, but when they are introduced tenants will have a choice of staying where they are only if they pay on average, an extra £40 each month if they have one spare room or £70 each month if they have two spare rooms.

Monica Burns, North East manager for the National Housing Federation, said “These new rules are futile and unfair. Housing associations in the North East have always been encouraged by Government to build bigger homes so families could live in the same homes for life and didn’t have to move when they had children. And as land was cheaper here that made good sense. Now those same tenants and housing associations are being penalised for having the wrong type of house. Many families on benefits will have no choice but to up sticks and move to private rented accommodation. The Government will then have to pay a higher rate of housing benefit to cover their rents for smaller homes.”

Even a household where each bedroom is in use could be hit with benefit cuts, because under the new rules children will be expected to share a bedroom up to the age of sixteen. Research estimates that 690,000 households in the United Kingdom will be hit by the new rules.

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.