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First social housing PFI scheme goes to local firm


LOCAL contractor Cruden has beaten national opposition to take England's first major Private Finance Initiative scheme to involve building local authority social housing.

The company found out this week it had overcome a final challenge from Mansell to take Warrington Borough Council's £20 million Anson Close and Blenheim Close regeneration project.

The firm has teamed up with social housing specialist Arena Housing Association to work on the scheme, which will involve building 192 homes on the sites freed up by the demolition of outdated council housing.

Just over 100 of the homes, costing £11.5 million to build, will be available for rent. A further £8 million will be spent building 87 private homes for sale to partfinance the deal.

Part of the design brief will be to ensure the development appears as a single cohesive estate with no distinction between private and social housing.

The deal also includes a further 39 homes to be built elsewhere in the borough. Work will start on site in May next year for completion in September 2006.

Arena will be responsible for maintaining the social housing for 30 years following construction.

A bid from Lovell was dropped earlier on in the process. Twelve firms originally expressed interest in the deal when it was first advertised last August.