Industry still keen on housing PFI

Stoke-on-Trent city council is racing ahead with the UK’s largest housing PFI after recently hosting a successful bidders’ day.

Despite many firms tightening their belts due to unstable credit markets more than 90 firms including registered social landlords, contractors, consultants and architects attended Stoke-on-Trent’s market testing. Project manager Joanna Stanaway said that feedback from prospective bidders was positive with a "good deal of interest…particularly with the market being what it is."

The council is currently working on its outline business case (OBC) and has already secured a share of the £190m PFI credit fund. The council now needs to submit its OBC by the end of February where it will find out the exact amount of credits it will be allocated. Stanaway said if all goes to plan an OJEU will be released in May.

Stoke-on-Trent’s housing PFI will deliver 560 new homes for elderly people for rent, sale and shared ownership. The homes will be extra care offering self-contained accommodation and on-site support with communal facilities including restaurants, gyms and hairdressing salons.

Cllr Joan Bell, portfolio holder for community safety and neighbourhood management, said that the market testing had given the council the opportunity to put proposals to leading companies and local businesses. She said: "The event was the chance to raise awareness of the scheme, and timetables, and also work with industry experts now to ensure our plans are achievable."

Other councils set to win a share of the £190m credit fund are Cheshire and Kent who are also working on OBCs. The councils’ proposals have been developed adhering to the Communities and Local Government’s ‘Housing for an Ageing Society’ strategy. Each council’s proposals include units for extra care housing for the elderly with special amenities, units for sale and homes for part ownership.