Liam and I were delighted to welcome Housing Minister, John Healey to Kensington Square a few weeks ago.
Kensington Square is a new housing development, built through a Labour government funded HMRI programme. Phase 1 has been completed - new houses and apartments in a mixed development, Riverside Housing Association has rented some out, others are available for sale. Some for shared ownership, some on rent to buy and some outright. They are fabulous, we went in the show-home during the visit and I was blown away with how fantastic it was.
Phase 2 was mothballed when the housing market crashed just as phase 1 was coming to fruition.
So what is phase 2? It is the plan to demolish the grotty shops, mostly empty and boarded up, and a couple of pubs, on the south side of Kensington, running from Holt Road up to Gilead Street. And then to build more homes on the land that will free up.
Builders Lovells were facing the unenviable task of trying to sell properties on phase 1, next to the decaying shops, in order to fund the demolition and building of the new homes. It was a real catch-22 situation, nobody wanted to buy until the shops were demolished, but the shops could not be demolished until the homes in phase 1 were sold.
Thankfully the Labour government has stepped in with £2.65million which will fund the demolition here, and help get phase 2 under way.
The Minister's visit was timed to share the good news with us. Thanks to his support, 58 affordable homes will be built on Kensington Square under this "Kickstart" programme.
The money also extends to clearing the site and getting down to work on the second phase on Fairfield Park, another new housing estate built as part of the HMRI programme, behind Quinns Bikes on Edge Lane. This beautiful little estate will be extended further, creating more affordable homes for local people - and hopefully also attracting some new people in the area.
The funds come with a requirement that apprentices should be taken on at the construction sites, meaning that local young people will get the opportunity of learning a real trade.