When Urban Splash invited around 100 guests to don hard hats and visit its building site in Stalybridge, what more appropriate meal could it have laid on than chip butties washed down with builders’ tea?
The occasion was the topping-out of the Pattern House building, the second instalment of its Longlands residential development in the centre of the Greater Manchester town on the edge of the Pennines.
The event was attended by many of the town’s businesspeople as well as local dignitaries, and Urban Splash’s chairman, Tom Bloxham, was on hand to address those assembled.
Longlands is typical Urban Splash fare. The first building, The Mill, was completed in 2008 and, as the name suggests, is a converted historic mill. The latest offering, Pattern House, is a new-build, and when completed this Spring, it will contain 59 apartments.
However, if it wasn’t for a crucial dose of public sector money, Longlands would have stalled; a £4.9m investment from the Homes and Communities Agency enabled Urban Splash to keep the development on track.
I met Bloxham last November and the role of the public sector in helping developers like Urban Splash featured during our discussion, more of which can be read here. We also discussed how a cash-strapped public can afford to live in his firm’s swanky pads.
Bloxham was quite clear that shared ownership will be a major boost to the residential industry for as long as people struggle to get mortgages. Indeed, out of the 563 flats that the firm has under construction – including at Longlands – 234 are available through the government’s Rent to HomeBuy shared ownership scheme.
It means that prices for Longlands flats either start at £99,950, or £50,000 for a 50% share. Ask nicely and Bloxham might throw a chip butty into the deal.