CDC: We are getting ready to go ‘big in major developments’

Name: Community Development Company (CDC)

Profession: Property developer

Business title: Newhouse Property Co. Ltd

Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland

Value of project: £5.8m

Project subject: Affordable Housing

The top level of the CDC property development team have recently completed a storm-proof housing project in east Belfast on the Chalkie Development scheme. This project, which will transform the use of public land by building over 50 affordable homes, is an exciting sign of things to come.

In October 2015, a £1.8m planning application was received for the Grendon development. This included a 10.3 acre site adjacent to Chalkie Developments’ existing site on Vosacker Street. The development will comprise of a mixture of three and four bedroom properties with an emphasis on the provision of affordable housing. These affordable homes will be the first to be built in the area. Chalkie Developments has also stated that it intends to offer some homes at around 75% of market value, an ambitious offer that will cut the supply of housing for those who can’t afford to live in a multi-million pound development by around 50%.

Funding for the Grendon development came from other CDC property projects such as the Monachry development in Belfast and the Hungerford flats in Derry. The CDC has also recently completed a larger housing development in Cork. The primary funding source for these developments came from loans from Irish commercial banks, however in many cases CDC has taken equity positions. The charity development company has around £7m of accumulated equity from which to support new schemes, but the on-going aim is to grow its earnings and current assets from other CDC projects.

County Barnsley

CDC is also in the process of constructing the Fenton Hospital, which is a 2.5 acre site in a health industrial zone on Monkswell Street, in Co Barnsley. The CDC has purchased the site and secured planning permission to construct an 18-storey residential block. The subdivision of the site to create four individual blocks of apartments was subject to robust planning conditions. The CDC will now be undertaking preparatory works to accommodate the eventual demolition of the former eye hospital and a planned public park.

It is interesting to note that the CDC is taking a ‘development financing not funding’ approach to building developments of its own and its affordable housing developments. This strategy is likely to reduce their reliance on capital finance and exposure to the volatility of commercial funding.

Whilst some concern has been raised over the use of mortgage funding, the CDC is actually of the opinion that these lending practices help sustain development in key sectors such as local infrastructure.

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