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Stockbridge Village Trust

Volume 114: debated on Thursday 9 April 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the financial position of the Stockbridge village trust; and if he will make a statement.

The Stockbridge Village Trust was set up in 1983, with the full agreement of residents, to take over and refurbish what had been one of the most rundown local authority estates in the country. Using a mixture of public and private finance, the trust embarked on a unique redevelopment programme involving the repair and remodelling of the bulk of the existing tenanted housing and selling vacant plots of land for new housing, both for sale and for rent.By September 1985 the trust had made substantial progress with this physical programme and, equally importantly, the trust had gained its tenants' confidence as a responsible and efficient landlord. In contrast to pre-trust days when over 10 per cent. of the estate had been vacant, the estate was now fully occupied with a waiting list of some 300 applicants.Experience suggested that some of the initial assumptions and financial projections needed revision. We therefore appointed the consultants Ernst and Whinney to carry out a comprehensive appraisal of the trust's position and long-term prospects. It reported that the trust was managing the estate efficiently and carrying out its capital programme effectively, but it recommended some restructuring in the interests of long-term financial stability.My Department discussed a package of measures, with the trust and its backers—Abbey National building society, Barclays Bank and Knowsley M BC, and I can now announce that full agreement has been reached by all the parties. These measures will enable the trust to complete its redevelopment of the estate. To complement them, there will be a continuing programme of new building for private sale, including sale on shared ownership terms. The Stockbridge Village housing association's programme of new build for fair rent is now largely complete. The metropolitan district of Knowsley will, with urban programme support, demolish the three Denes tower blocks in the centre of the estate and build a major leisure facility in their place.I am pleased that all parties have reaffirmed their commitment to this trail-blazing initiative. The trust has already achieved a great deal, in refurbishing large areas of the estate, in building a new shopping centre, and in creating confidence in an area where around 200 residents have now bought their homes under the right to buy, and over 120 new homes have been built for owner-occupation. I look forward to the trust completing its programme successfully.