People who bought affordable houses on a half-built estate could face homelessness after the contractor went bust, it is feared. Back in 2019, Stockport council gave the go ahead for a new 87-home development on land off Melford Road, in Hazel Grove.
Planning chiefs welcomed the scheme, which was to be delivered by Viaduct Housing – a partnership between Stockport council and Stockport Homes- and boast a ‘large chunk’ of much-need affordable housing. But, more than three years on, progress at the site – a former BT depot – has ground to a halt after contractor Mulbury Homes Ltd filed for administration.
Councilor Oliver Johnstone raised the issue at a recent council meeting, noting that there was ‘obviously a serious problem’. He told councilors he understood Viaduct was advising people who had put deposits down to look at ‘alternative residential arrangements’ in the long term.
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“I would like to know what we are planning to do with that, because that’s a half built site,” he told members of the communities and housing scrutiny committee.
Coun Amanda Peers, who chairs the scrutiny committee, concurred. “It’s really important we get up-to-date information about when this matter is likely to be resolved, because people are actually facing homelessness,” she said.
“They have sold their houses, they have moved into temporary accommodation, they have been promised date, after date, after date – and they [the homes] are still not finished. So I agree we need some answers for them.”
Mark Glyn, the council’s director place management, admitted it was a ‘complicated contractual mess’ – but told members he would update them once he had gathered more detail on the ongoing negotiations.
He added: “I absolutely agree that it’s a dreadful situation. People have invested not just their finances but their hearts in the move and, through no fault of the council, this scheme has not progressed due to contractual reasons.”
A spokesman for Viaduct Housing said it was ‘acutely aware of and extremely sorry for the uncertainty and stress experienced by a number of our purchasers as a result of the reported delays’.
They continued: “The building industry is experiencing unprecedented challenges at present and unfortunately, the building contractor at Melford Road, Mulbury Homes Ltd, filed for administration in February 2022, which meant that all construction work ceased.
“Working with the administrators, we have now managed to secure the site in our control and have been working hard to procure a contractor to complete the build as soon as possible. This has proven to be extremely challenging in the current building climate with little appetite within the industry to take on and complete this complicated contract.”
Viaduct says it is ‘extremely keen’ to resolve this issue as soon as possible and is ‘exploring all available options’ with a view to recommencing work at the site as soon as possible.
In the meantime, the housing provider says it is working closely with customers to support them and ensure they are fully aware of the situation and options available to them.
“We will continue to remain in regular contact with these customers and update them on progress,” a spokesman added.
The proposals feature 59 detached and semi-detached houses, as well as 28 apartments across two three-storey blocks. Some 90 per cent of the properties – 76 dwellings – were to be classed as affordable, with 13 available for social rent and 63 for shared ownership.
Stockport councils’ communities and housing scrutiny committee met at the town hall on Monday, June 13.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.