Families are starting to move into their new homes on the first of three Midland Heart developments that will provide much-needed housing and regeneration in Leicester.
The historic Wolsey Island site – known locally as Sock Island after the hosiery factory that once stood there – is part of a £58m investment to build almost 400 new homes.
The housing association’s ambitious scheme with developer Westleigh Partnerships Ltd also includes the former St Mary’s allotments off Old Saffron Lane, Aylestone and abandoned industrial land off Green Lane Road.
Glenn Harris, Midland Heart’s Chief Executive, said: “It has been very interesting to chart the progress of Wolsey Island over the past year and see how new life is being breathed into what was a disused factory site. I was delighted to find on my visit recently that the development is really taking shape and, more importantly, that families are starting to move into genuinely affordable housing. Already, a sense of community is emerging.
“During my visit I met with one of our new tenants who has moved into an affordable rent house with her two sons. She was very positive about their brand new home and its attractive location.
“This scheme is a very significant one for Midland Heart, working in partnership with Westleigh Partnerships, and an important one for Leicester. We are looking forward to the completion of Wolsey Island in 2019 and seeing the progress of the other two developments, which are also regenerating disused land. Together, the three sites offer a mix of tenures including much needed high quality homes at affordable rent, private sale and market rent.”
Midland Heart and Westleigh Partnerships worked closely with Leicester City Council to realise the ambitious plans.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “The new housing development at Wolsey Island is shaping up to be something very special. Westleigh and Midland Heart are to be applauded for their ambitious vision to create a thriving new neighbourhood at this fantastic location. It’s great to see families now moving into the first of the new homes.
“Leicester boasts some beautiful riverside settings but, until recently, development in these areas has been slow to come forward.
“I hope this inspires other landowners to see the potential for their own sites and helps to bring more of the city’s riverside back into use as new places to live and a work.”
Giv Corbo, Business Development Manager for Westleigh Partnerships Ltd, said: “We are pleased to be playing our part in delivering these affordable homes for the benefit of the community in Leicester.
“These homes are going some way towards addressing the shortage of affordable properties in the local area.
“We would like to thank our partners at both Midland Heart and Leicester City Council for helping us to make the scheme the success that it is.”
Work on the Wolsey Island development got underway in April 2017 and is due for completion next year. The project includes the renovation of the historic Wolsey water tower, which is being refashioned into an unusual dwelling for private sale. The site will eventually have 175 properties including for affordable rent, market rent, shared ownership, and outright sales.
The development on the former St Mary’s allotments off Old Saffron Lane comprises 113 houses and 12 flats, 51 of which are for affordable rent and 36 for shared ownership. The first properties will be handed over this summer and the scheme will be completed in 2019. As part of the project, Leicester City Council is planning to create a new public open space with grasslands, mature trees and a grassed area for ball games.
Once completed in early 2019, there will be a further 49 properties for affordable rent and 33 for shared ownership off Green Lane Road.