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Last updateWed, 29 May 2024 2pm

Official stamp of approval for new community in Wigan

HPBC launch imageRichard Bacon, MP, a leading exponent of community housebuilding, has helped launch a plan to shape a Wigan church into affordable homes.

Award-winning charity Housing People, Building Communities (HPBC) was granted planning permission to develop the vacant St William’s church and presbytery and adjacent land in Ince into homes. The development, working in collaboration with Prima Housing Group work, has now started.

The politician unveiled the exciting development to VIP guests, including Cllr David Molyneux, MBE, Leader of Wigan Council and Cllrs Susan Gambles Housing & Welfare, Ince ward Cllr Janice Sharret, and Cllr Martyn Smethurst.

Representatives from facilitators and supporters for the scheme, including Homes England and Greater Manchester Combined Authority who are providing essential grant funding, Wienerberger, local charity Belmont CH, Greater Manchester Community Led Homes and the Archdiocese of Liverpool who gifted the church and its grounds were given a guided tour.

The initiative to develop St William’s will help cut the cost of home ownership in the town by up to £10,000 by offering buyers called home partners the opportunity to work on the development. It is the first time home buyers in Wigan will be able to use their own sweat equity to contribute towards the deposit they need to purchase their homes.

HPBC, a not-for-profit charitable organisation, dedicated to changing lives by addressing the housing crisis with a combination of self-build, volunteering and philanthropy and Prima, a provider of quality, safe and affordable homes, have joined forces to shape a new community in Wigan.

Said Richard, Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group of Self Build, Custom and Community Housebuilding and Placemaking: “There is a great need for affordable housing and the need for supportive communities is even greater. HPBC’s unique model offers both. More projects like this around the country would play a major role in creating sustainable solutions to the housing crisis. We just need more folks like HBPC with both the imagination to see what is possible and the knowledge of how to make it happen."

Councillor David Molyneux MBE, leader of Wigan Council, said: “Developments like this make huge changes to people’s lives.

“This unique ‘sweat equity’ model allows people to get on the property ladder, giving people hope and choices and a ready-made community when they move in which is an incredibly important aspect of the project.

“St William’s is a vital part of the Ince community, and the work Housing People Building Communities have done to take residents along on the journey with them and will do to retain the church’s original features is really impressive.

“Wigan Council is proud to work alongside Housing People Building Communities and we fully commit our support to the project.”

Added Cllr Susan Gambles, cabinet portfolio holder for housing and welfare at Wigan Council, “This project is right in the heart of the community and it is providing a fabulous opportunity for local people to help build their own home and fulfil the dream of getting on the housing ladder. This has been possible through the support and vision of HPBC, their collaboration with Prima Housing Group, and the generosity of the Archdiocese of Liverpool”

Rob Young , Chair of the Prima Group said: “It is so important to have true collaboration to deliver such an innovative scheme and that’s what we have achieved. The St William’s scheme fits perfectively with the wider Prima ethos of meaningful partnerships and placing customers at the heart of what we do. The construction of new homes and maintaining our existing homes to high standards, is the foundation to enable our customers and communities to thrive.”

The site on Ince Green Lane has lain empty since 2017. The Charity was approached by the Archdiocese of Liverpool who wanted to retain the church and presbytery and repurpose it to provide affordable housing for local people using HPBC’s unique model.

The former church will be converted into 10 two and three bed houses/apartments, the Presbytery into a three bed, two bed and one bed apartments and the grounds behind will accommodate 14 three-bed houses. In total 27 new affordable homes will be built.

Visitors to the development were given a tour of the building to highlight the design which will incorporate the architecture of the church to conserve and retain the character, history and charm of the building, an early twentieth-century red brick lancet Gothic style church built in 1911.

Said HPBC Chief Executive Liza Parry:” The development is already taking shape and we were delighted to show our guests, from partners, politicians and supporters to funders and home partners, what progress has already been made.

“The launch of St William’s is a milestone for Wigan with a development which we hope will make a real difference to local people and a blueprint for the future. We are now actively seeking Home Partners who want to call the church their home”

HPBC’s innovative approach whereby 500 hours of sweat equity reduces their deposit by £10,000, has enabled residents on previous developments to buy where they may typically have struggled to raise a deposit.

The homes, which will be completed by February 2025, will give the opportunity for the home buyers, their family and friends to utilise their own skills (and learn new skills) ranging from on-site labour, painting & decorating, and landscaping to admin, marketing and IT support.

HPBC has won many accolades for similar developments in Liverpool, including the conversion of a church in Toxteth, St Bernard’s, where the building was converted into a stunning collection of homes

The buyers bought the first tranche of shares in the homes, ranging from 30% to 75%, dependent on affordability, with the option of 100% ownership in the future.

The homes in Wigan are on offer with a similar arrangement and the charity is already receiving applications from people wanting to become buyers now that work has begun on the exciting development.