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Teamwork award for Liverpool partnership

A successful partnership to transform a derelict Liverpool church into 16 affordable homes has been rewarded with a prestigious housing industry accolade.

Onward Homes and Housing People Building Communities (HPBC) have won the Best Partnership category in the National Housing Awards 2019.

HPBC, a not-for-profit charitable organisation, dedicated to changing lives by addressing the housing crisis with a combination of self-build, volunteering and philanthropy and Onward, a provider of quality, affordable homes for rent and sale in the North West, have created a unique partnership in Toxteth.

In the spirit of collaboration, the church and land was gifted to the project by the Archdiocese of Liverpool and the contractors have accommodated donations of building materials to offset costs.

The innovative approach, to help local people get on the property ladder by using 500 hours of sweat equity to reduce their deposit by £10,000, has enabled residents to buy, where they may typically struggle to raise a deposit.

The homes which will be completed by the end of October have incorporated skills ranging from on-site labour to website development.

Said HPBC Chief Executive Liza Parry: “Cooperation and partnership has been at the centre of everything we have done at St Bernard’s and it’s a principle which all our home owners have embraced.

“It’s a new community based on collaborative values and we are delighted our success has been recognised by a top industry award.  

“It’s given us a tremendous boost to finalise the development so the properties can become a home for so many who have worked so hard.”

Lin Powell, head of development at Onward, said: “We are absolutely delighted that St Bernard’s has been recognised by the National Housing Awards. 

“This innovative project wouldn’t have been possible without the fantastic collaboration of all the partners involved. I’d like thank HPBC for choosing to work with Onward on this ambitious development, and would particularly like to thank the contractor Hampton Developments NW for how they have embraced the ethos of the project.”

The National Housing Award judges praised the preservation of the landmark, commenting: “This is ideal for people who are prepared to put in the effort, but can’t always put in the money.  For us, this is really a benchmark in partnership working with everyone having one inspired vision.”

The project has seen St Bernard’s converted into 11 three-storey three-bedroom homes; four new-build two-bedroom apartments, in addition to a three-bedroom house which has been built in the grounds. 

One of the home partners, Polly Ross, 33, a social worker, said the award was well deserved.  She said: “It’s been such an enjoyable experience that’s allowed me and my family to get to know, and become friends with, our future neighbours by us all working together on the team builds,

“My sister Peggy is also buying a house in the St Bernard’s project and it’s lovely that our young children will live only a couple of houses apart. The houses are amazing! Our families have been living in rented accommodation around the corner from St Bernard’s for quite a few years, we grew up in this area and love it.”

The home partners have bought the first tranche of shares ranging from 50% to 75%, depending on what they can afford, and can aim for 100% ownership in the future.

Ainsley Gommon Architects have worked closely with planning and conservation officers to preserve the history of the church.

Other partners included Ainsley Gommon Architects, contractor Hampton Developments, cost consultants Wilkinson Cowan, alongside funding support from Homes England.