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Firm's housing plans get Government backing

Friday, February 10, 2017 at 5:08PM

CUMBRIAN property firm the Prospus Group has taken its plans to help deal with Britain's housing crisis to heart of Government.

The company - which has offices at Warwick Bridge, outside Carlisle, and Kirkby Stephen, in Eden - has devised a unique scheme to help people who are struggling to get on the property ladder.

This involves creating mutual housing groups with the aim of developing grant-free affordable housing, making use of the most up-to-date pre-fabricated building techniques.

The aim of this is to use the the collective strength of groups to secure land, homes and finance at a lower cost, which would mean people would not need their own mortgage or to pay for a deposit.

These houses would be funded by the company and then anyone who moves in would pay into the mutual trust through their rent, giving them a stake in the properties.

Should they move out they will get a return from their payments or if the houses were sold they would get a share of any money made on them.

The company has taken this idea to central Government and it has been discussed at 10 Downing Street by officials.

Alistair Fell, one of the directors, said: "We are helping the Government deliver in a key policy area and it is good to be helping people get onto the property ladder when the national average deposit is about £30,000."

The firm hopes to begin work on a project based on their ideas before the end of 2017.

This model was also recognised at the national Finance for the Future Awards in London, where Prospus Group was nominated in the innovative new idea category.

The prize is designed to recognise groups which have developed new and innovative ideas that will have impacts on one or more of the Sustainable Global Goals outlined by the United Nations to end poverty, protect the environment and ensure prosperity.

The company came home as the winner from this event following a Dragon's Den style presntation.

Derek Mitchell, another director, said: “Our work demonstrates that it is feasible to increase the supply capacity of affordable housing without reliance on grants, offering an alternative approach to those locked off the conventional housing ladder. The other benefit of our model is that we can compete with conventional developers in terms of price paid to landowners.

"Our in-house planners, architects and project managers ensure that developments will be delivered efficiently and with real community engagement.”

Earlier this week the Government released a white paper on planning, which included many of the issues which were addressed by the group as priorities.

Prospus has one other director alongside Mr Mitchell and Mr fell, Tom Woof.

The company has its head office in Edinburgh but works primarily in Cumbria and both Mr Fell and Mr Woof are based in the county.

It was set up last year and specialises in both housing and commercial property developments on land which has been overlooked in the past.

So far it has helped secure planning permission for a new branch of Spar in Kirkby Stephen, on the site of an old filling station, as well as Cumbria's first battery storage facility in Bigrigg.

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