Fast tracking Community Wellbeing Scheme

Partnerships North pulled out all the stops to get a £13m innovative community facility for older people on site in just seven months from the initial idea.

This land led development deal involved delicate negotiations with a challenging landowner and taking planning risk to maximise speed of delivery and commercial returns.

The concept was presented to housing association Home Group in March and involved significant dialogue with Gateshead Council and Homes England in order to bring forward a viable scheme.

A public consultation on proposals for a four storey development followed in April.  However, to address the concerns of local residents, certain elements had to be redesigned to lower its height to just two floors in places.  Despite causing a month long delay in the planning process, permission to build was secured in July and within two days Home Group signed up to take on the facility.

Site enabling works began this month and full construction will be underway early in September, with the aim of completing the works and having residents move in before Christmas 2021.

MD for Partnerships North, Sean Egan, said:  “In the North East we have a significant track record in bringing forward land led deals. This one was particularly complex, given the landowner and the innovative nature of the scheme. The pace at which we worked to do the deal on the land, secure planning consent, get the housing association in contract and commence on site within six weeks of gaining planning has been testament to the quality of collaboration across various disciplines within the business.”

Home Group and Partnerships North have been working with Gateshead Council to help it meet the priorities within the 2015 – 2020 Housing Strategy.  The project supports the drive to help people to live in the community for longer – reducing the need for general residential care.  The aim is to provide 245 such apartments in the borough over the next five years.

The scheme, on the site of a former hotel, will be an attractive, safe and secure place for older people – from 55 upwards – to live.  It will provide 82 one and two bedroomed homes –  all for affordable rent.  An agreement between Gateshead Council and Home Group will ensure that the apartments are prioritised for Gateshead residents with a genuine need for such accommodation.

Staff on site will provide a high quality, holistic, preventative, flexible and responsive care and support service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, enabling people to live independently in a home environment.  The scheme will also play an active part as a hub within the community, with those living in the area being welcome to visit and access the facilities.

To support all of this, there will be a range of services and facilities to support residents and the wider community, such as a restaurant, hairdresser, communal lounges and gardens designed to foster community growth and cohesion.

In addition, there will a focus on engaging with local schools and community groups to facilitate community events and integrate the scheme into local people lives.​