A unique partnership between Wates Residential and Matrix Homes, a joint venture between Manchester City Council, the HCA and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund. This first phase of the Housing Investment Fund partnership delivered 240 new homes across five sites in Manchester, showcasing a new and innovative model for residential development.
Wates Residential was appointed as development contractor via the HCA Development Partner Panel framework in September 2013, with the remit to develop masterplans for each of the five projects in order to achieve planning submissions by February 2014. Thanks to close collaboration and an effective partnership culture, Wates Residential achieved a start on site from a red line boundary in less than twelve months.
The 240 much needed new family homes offered a mix of 103 units for open market sale and 137 for private rent and thanks to extensive preparations during the preconstruction period, Wates Residential delivered all 240 homes within a 20-month timeframe.
This is especially impressive considering the requirement for Wates to also design and construct new highways and footpaths, as well as the making good of existing footpaths adjacent to the sites.
All units are of traditional brick and block construction and were selected from the highly efficient ‘Wates Assured Homes’ range of BIM-designed standard house types, offering cost and programme certainty to the client.
This was crucial, considering that this was the first pension-funded housing development project. The aim of this partnership was for both the Council and the Pension Fund to take a revenue return on their investment and a share in the capital return. Revenue return was generated through market rentals and the capital return through house sales.
As a unique solution, Wates developed an investment model which minimised the sales risk to Matrix Homes, offered flexible tenure options to local people and provided Matrix Homes the opportunity to acquire homes on favourable terms in the future. This included an agreement to buy any unsold/un-let homes and manage them (with the housing management company) under alternative models including affordable rent and rent-to-buy.
This wasn’t required in the end due to extremely high demand for both sale and rental properties with both tenure types exceeding the values in the financial model. Investment returns to the Council were favourable and over achieved the original business plan thanks to Wates’ rigorous cost control processes.
Challenges and solutions
Each site had varying previous uses including farm land, housing and light industrial.
Although each site had been cleared around 2000, remediation work was required on all of them. This work included the burial of asbestos in accordance with an agreed remediation strategy and cut and fill to level the sites.
Due to site contamination, we carried out a 600mm site strip with a 600mm capping layer consisting of clean imported test material in the excavated garden areas with a 300mm capping layer in landscaped areas.
Just over half of the properties for sale have been purchased with assistance from the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, aimed at supporting first time buyers.
From the outset of the project, the Wates Residential team engaged closely with local neighbours and the wider community of Manchester.
The key theme was to support MCC’s employability agenda from education to employment. We worked closely with MCC’s Head of Education and Skills to develop a three-tiered timetable of activities which encompassed support for local schools, colleges, apprentices and ultimately, the long-term unemployed. Therefore, we implemented a bespoke community investment plan which yielded a range of social value benefits, including:
- 45 local people have benefitted from employment and training initiatives,
including apprenticeships and work experience placements
- 1,775 training and employment weeks have been created for local people
- £915k invested into training local people
- 2,840 students supported through Wates’ educational programmes
- £29.5k invested in education for local people
- £12m spent with small local businesses during the project
- 2,200 hours donated to support local good causes
- £20.5m economic benefit generated for the local community throughout the project