The developer set to transform Farnworth town centre will borrow £12.5m of public funds to build nearly 100 homes – but none will be affordable.
The loan which Capital&Centric requested for the Farnworth Green development has now been approved by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).
The plans for 85 apartments and 12 townhouses together with commercial units and a community hub on the site of the former Farnworth Market were approved last year and are a big part of Bolton Council’s vision for the town.
The scheme has already been awarded £12.7m in grants, including from the government’s Future High Street Fund and the GMCA’s Brownfield Housing Fund.
However, the company will not be making any financial contributions towards affordable housing, education or health care in the areas as part of the scheme, nor will any of the homes built be classed as ‘affordable’ housing.
Capital&Centric joint managing director Tom Wilmot said: “Farnworth is exactly the kind of place where our approach to regeneration can make massive difference – a challenging, town centre brownfield site crying out for some vision. Our plans will deliver transformational change that’ll be felt for generations.
“The public and private sector must come together to get design-led projects off the ground at destinations where values are often lower and viability is a real barrier. We’re grateful for the continued support and collaboration from the public sector, with Farnworth backed by Bolton Council, the Government’s Future High Streets Fund and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.
“[Greater Manchester] is leading the way when it comes to ensuring the whole region sees positive progress, not just the city centre.
“This fund has been specifically set up to help projects across the line. We’ve a successful track record too, paying back similar loans on Crusader and Phoenix, with interest, for the combined authority to re-invest elsewhere.”
The latest loan for the scheme – which takes the total that will be borrowed from taxpayers’ money to £15.5m – comes from the GM Housing Investment Loans Fund. Set up with government cash in 2015, the fund has offered developers £802m worth of loans for nearly 10,000 new homes so far.
Most of the money made from interest on these loans is ringfenced for other housing initiatives, including the provision of affordable housing, according to the GMCA. Affordable housing provision and Section 106 agreements for each development are dealt with by local authorities during the planning process.
The GMCA has also approved a £12.2m loan for the refurbishment of an empty office building in Altrincham. The CityHaus scheme, which was approved by Trafford council last summer, would see Clarendon House turned into 68 flats.
Section 106 contributions of £358,000 have now been agreed as part of the plans by a North West-based developer. At the last GMCA meeting on May 16, council leaders also accepted changes to the terms of loans already agreed.
This includes loans for a Well Built Homes scheme in Royton, a Splash Contracts scheme in Woodhouses and the AH2 Gee Cross scheme in Hyde. The conversion of the former Bury Magistrates Court into 39 apartments together with 10 more houses around the site has also had its loan amended.
The terms of a £32.4m loan to Renaker for The Blade development of the 51-storey tower with 414 apartments in Manchester city centre have also been changed. The developer behind some of the tallest skyscrapers being built in the city centre has borrowed more than £100m from the GMCA fund so far.