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Multi-million pound grants boost Biart Place development

Development of Rugby Borough Council's Biart Place site has taken a major step forward with the award of nearly £9million in grant funding.

Biart Place
The two eleven-storey towers that formerly comprised the Biart Place site. They were deconstructed during lockdown. Published Tuesday, 12th July 2022

Homes England has awarded the project £6.8million from their Affordable Homes Programme 2021-26 and Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) has awarded £2million via the government’s Getting Building Fund (GBF).

The Homes England funding will mean that the project will not have to be self-funded via affordable housing or private sales of housing and can be developed as 100 per cent social housing. The GBF funding has paid for the demolition and site clearance costs, allowing project funding to be re-focused on project delivery.

A report being presented to councillors at a meeting of Rugby Borough Council to be held on 19 July explains that Rugby is a high-pressure affordability area. This has led Homes England to agree to fund the scheme as 100 per cent social rented housing, as opposed to the more expensive affordable rent which is up to 80 per cent of market rent.

The Biart Place site formerly consisted of 124 flats in two eleven-storey blocks of Byron large panel system construction, which were deconstructed during lockdown. The towers were built in 1968 to a poor standard and surveys showed they may not perform as expected in the event of a fire or explosion. Councillors approved plans for the demolition of the site in September 2018 after concluding that the blocks were beyond economic repair and for the development of the site as 100 per cent social housing in March 2022 with Homes England’s support.

Cllr Emma Crane, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for communities, homes, digital and communications, said: “These grants are a significant endorsement of the council’s ambitious plans to develop the Biart Place site and build modern, low carbon homes for our tenants.

“At a time when the cost of living continues to increase, it is important that we do everything we can to provide high quality, socially rented homes whenever we can.

I would like to thank Homes England and the CWLEP for this vital funding, which has allowed us to take forward our plans for 100 per cent social rented homes and look forward to continue working with them as vital partners on this and other projects.”

Tracey Thornton, Provider Management manager for Homes England, said: “Despite the current challenges affecting the country, accelerating housebuilding remains our number one priority.

“We are committed to supporting Rugby Borough Council, who have ambitions to build new homes and our investment through affordable housing grant allows us them to do that.

“We’re delighted that this funding will enable Rugby Borough Council to deliver much needed new homes in Rugby.”

Sarah Windrum, Chair of CWLEP, said: “It is crucial that we are doing everything we can to help councils in Coventry and Warwickshire build the homes they need for the future to continue to develop sustainable communities across the area.

“We were delighted to award Rugby Borough Council £2 million through the Getting Building Fund to enable it to deliver Biart Place which will provide attainable and affordable homes for local people.”

With funding now in place, the council intends to share detailed plans for the site with nearby residents shortly. It is hoped that a planning application for the development will be submitted this autumn.

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