Work is now underway to remodel and prepare 58 flats and bedsits to help address the ‘desperate need’ for more affordable council housing in Leicester.
The city council has recently completed the purchase of the Zip Building – on Rydal Street, close to the city centre – as part of plans originally announced last year.
The three-storey former shoe factory building was bought for £5.55million, part-funded by £2.4million of cash from the sale of council properties under the Government’s Right to Buy scheme.
It will provide 58 affordable flats and bedsits, all of which will be added to the city council’s housing stock and help meet the growing demand for one and two-bedroom affordable homes across the city.
Refurbishment work is now underway and the first council tenants are expected to be able to move into the property by March 2024.
The majority of the units within the Zip Building will be one-bed flats and bedsits. The remaining units will be a mix of two-bed flats – including two wheelchair accessible properties – and three and four-bed cluster flats, some of which will provide support to help people with independent living.
Cllr Elly Cutkelvin, assistant city mayor for housing said: “The acquisition of the Zip Building will help meet the increasing demand for one and two-bedroom council housing. But we still face a desperate need for more affordable housing in the city.
“The Right to Buy scheme has hit the supply of council housing hard. We’re losing homes much faster that they are being built and it’s time the Right to Buy scheme was abandoned. We have been forced to sell thousands of council houses over the past 30 years.
“That makes it absolutely vital that we invest our Right to Buy cash receipts into schemes like this, which help addressing the critical need for more affordable homes.”
Whenever a council property is sold under Right to Buy, the proceeds of the sale must be used in line with strict Government guidelines. This means that only some of the proceeds can be used to support the costs of building and/or acquiring new affordable homes.
Each year, Leicester City Council loses an average of 400 council homes through the Right to Buy scheme.
To help address the local housing crisis, the city council aims to help provide an additional 1,500 affordable homes in the Leicester by 2027.
The Zip Building dates back to around 1900 and was built to the designs of regionally renowned Stockdale Harrison for Thompson & Co wholesale boot and shoe manufacturers. By the mid-20thcentury, it had been converted into a hosiery factory. The building was redeveloped as residential accommodation around 12 years ago.