First Minister stops off at latest housing development in Glasgow

GHA unveils 105 affordable homes at Govan tram depot site as Wheatley announces further £65 million of private investment.

First Minister visits tenants at new GHA homes

FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon visited tenants of Glasgow’s latest affordable homes development as Scotland’s largest housing, care and property-management group announced it had secured a further £65 million of private investment.

The new funding, in the form of a new five-year revolving credit facility with two Scottish banks, takes the amount raised by Wheatley in the past three years to fund the country’s largest building programme of affordable homes to over £500 million.

The 105 flats and terraced houses visited by the First Minister are being developed by Wheatley’s largest partner organisation, GHA, and its commercial subsidiary, Lowther Homes, on the site of the former Govan Tram Depot in the First Minister’s Glasgow Southside constituency.

The development is part of Wheatley’s rolling programme of 3500 new affordable homes and is a direct result of a major fundraising drive that so far has involved securing:

  • £65M just announced from Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Scotland;
  • £100M of private finance from the world’s largest fund manager Blackrock in May this year;
  • £50M in 2015 to develop Lowther Homes’ portfolio from Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Scotland;
  • and £300 million of bond finance from the London capital markets in 2014.

GHA Chair Bernadette Hewitt said: “This outstanding development features great new homes for social rent, coupled with attractive mid-market apartments in the restored and refurbished tram depot.

“It’s an excellent example of how GHA, Lowther and Wheatley are playing their parts in Glasgow and across Scotland to address the acute need for new energy-efficient, affordable homes.”

The First Minister visited Marilyn Cunningham, 66, who moved into her new GHA home in the Govan development after the house she raised her family in became too big. Marilyn said: “I absolutely love my new house. I had been in my old home for 33 years and it was just too big. This is great and although it’s smaller, I still have space for the grandchildren to stay. The neighbours are fantastic too, really friendly.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Access to good quality housing is a vital part of our drive to secure economic growth, promote social justice, strengthen communities and tackle inequalities. That’s why this government is investing more than £3 billion to deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes – 35,000 for social rent – over the lifetime of this Parliament. It’s fantastic to see an old building being redeveloped as part of the affordable programme, and directly benefiting local residents like Marilyn.”

The historic Govan site, which takes in Brand Street, Harvie Street and Clutha Street, comprises 85 homes for social rent by GHA and 20 mid-market flats in the refurbished former red sandstone tram office which are let and managed by Lowther Homes. The site, which had lain derelict for years, was a tram depot in the early 1900s. Rows of tram sheds behind the depot offices were later used as trolley bus garages before the site became a car pound for Strathclyde Police in the 1990s. The sheds were later demolished.

The First Minister also met Catherine Mulrine, 90, who worked at the tram depot from 1943 as a conductress on the trams, the trolley buses and the buses. Catherine lives nearby and has watched every step of the development take shape.

The homes were built for GHA by contractors Cruden Building & Renewals Ltd and designed by Collective Architecture. The £11m development was part funded by Scottish Government grant of £5.5m and by the funding raised by Wheatley Group on the bond market in 2014.

Wheatley Chair Alastair MacNish said: “The Glasgow development visited by the First Minister today represents another notable milestone in Scotland’s largest affordable homes building programme.

“It is our intention to return to the capital markets in the next couple of years and to develop other means of securing additional private finance to continue funding our ambitious house-building programme across Scotland, from West Dunbartonshire through Glasgow to Edinburgh and the Lothians.”

Richard Hughes, relationship director at Bank of Scotland, said: “Wheatley’s development programme will see thousands of homes delivered in parts of Scotland with some of the most acute need for affordable housing. Our funding will help to ensure Wheatley can continue to provide high-quality homes and care across the country and forms part of our pledge to help Britain’s housing providers prosper with £500m of new funding during 2017.”

Ian Sillars, Head of Housing Finance Scotland & North, Royal Bank of Scotland said: “The need to build new affordable housing in Scotland is well recognised and Wheatley Housing Group plays a vital role in helping develop new homes for people in key employer towns and cities across the country. As a bank we are delighted to extend our long-term relationship with Wheatley Housing Group and to provide additional funding to support the development of new affordable homes which will contribute towards meeting the national target of 50,000 new homes.”

Pictured: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visits GHA tenant Marilyn Cunningham at her new home. Also pictured, far right, is GHA Chair Bernadette Hewitt.


Friday, August 18, 2017