Saxton is a £40m residential scheme on the fringe of Leeds City centre.
The project is an exercise in the reinvention of redundant social housing stock and involves the redevelopment of two redundant 1950’s blocks within the Saxton Gardens estate. The other five other blocks had been refurbished in the 1990’s and are fully occupied with Leeds City Council tenants.
Urban Splash, working with architects Union North, completed the refurbishment of the two buildings in 2011 and have since welcomed a community of people who’ve been enticed by the mix of ownership options available there.
It is because of this wealth of affordable and mixed occupancy options that we are submitting this scheme for this award. Our approach, in conjunction with our partners and the local housing association, means that we believe Saxton is a functional and imaginative affordable housing scheme.
Saxton Gardens stands in the East Bank area of Leeds City Centre and are a stark contrast to the City, tranquil, peaceful and boasting landscaped surrounds.
Developed in the 1950s the majority of the buildings had maintained their appearance however two vacant buildings needed redeveloping and Urban Splash, working with architects Union North, was brought in to look at the prospects of two vacant buildings towards the rear of the original Saxton Gardens scheme.
We started working on site in 2007 the with a view to transforming the fortunes of the rundown scheme. The £32 million project was aimed at creating 410 homes and maximizing use of the space at the vast 2.7 hectare site.
Four years later, and two contrasting buildings stand adjacent, creating a wealth of new opportunities for homebuyers in Leeds. The once dilapidated buildings now house a mix of one and two bedrooms and the space has been divided to ensure that each apartment is substantial in size.
The generous space inside extended to the external too creating possibly the biggest private garden in Leeds. This space is used by residents for leisure, sports and also features 97 allotments, on which residents are encouraged to grow their own fruit and veg.
Upon completing the designs of the building, we then had to turn our attentions to ensuring that these homes would be attainable to a broad audience.
At the early stages of its involvement at the scheme, Urban Splash built on its close working relationship with the Homes and Communities Agency (formerly English Partnerships) and in 2009 the company secured an allocation of ‘Homebuy Direct’ homes at the scheme, meaning that a proportion were offered on a shared equity proposition, helping more people purchase there and get onto the property ladder.
The scheme was incredibly well received and [INSERT NUMBER] of homes were sold under it. It opened doors for buyers who, particularly in 2009, were struggling with raising finances and purchasing their own home.
It was because of the success of this scheme that Urban Splash then secured funding in the 2010 round of the Government’s Kickstart programme, an allocation of finance to projects that were affected by the economic downturn. This facilitated the completion of the second building at Saxton in 2011.
Its success continues thanks to the quality of the design, the space, and the fact that the development is the only shared ownership option for buyers in Leeds city centre providing an affordable route to home ownership for first time buyers.
It is also a highly desired destination by young professionals and young home seekers. Its prominent position means that the scheme stands just five minutes walk from the heart of the city including hotspots such as Call Lane. It is also just 10 minutes from the central station, which links the city with Manchester and Liverpool.
In the matter of months since the second building was completed Saxton has become a thriving community. New occupiers have weaved seamlessly into the existing community and the rate at which the new residents have moved in has been greatly bolstered by the affordable schemes we offered. It is a truly great opportunity for those trying to get onto the property ladder – and have a sizeable, fantastically designed home to show for it.