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Treasury signs off £150m Lambeth PFI housing scheme

Years of waiting are over for Regenter Myatts Field North Consortium and its 1,000-home private finance initiative scheme, Construction News can reveal.

A highly-anticipated £150 million private finance initiative housing scheme in south London can finally go ahead after the Treasury signed it off last week.

Regenter Myatts Field North Consortium – comprising Regenter, Higgins Construction, Equipe Regeneration, Pinnacle PSG and Scottish and Southern Energy – was announced preferred bidder for Lambeth Council’s Myatt’s Field North housing estate regeneration project back in December 2009.

The scheme had been hotly contested against a Balfour Beatty/Sanctuary Housing consortium and a United House/Barratt team.

In November 2010, the new coalition government scrapped 13 PFI housing schemes worth £1.9bn. The Department for Communities and Local Government decided to conduct a “rigorous” value for money review of another 13 projects at procurement stage, worth £1.2bn. The final step is a business case review by Treasury.

Housing minister Grant Shapps has now approved all 13 of those schemes.

They include in Wiltshire, Salford, Derby, Kirklees, Manchester, North Tyneside, Oldham, Woking, Kent and two in Leeds and one in Stoke-on-Trent - which called forbids for an £108m scheme at the end of last year.

The Lambeth project passed its value for money assessment in spring 2011 and got through the final stage – Treasury business case approval – last week.

The Regenter consortium – which will manage and maintain all the PFI properties and open spaces for 30 years – can finally build 305 new homes, modernising and refurbishing 172 existing homes, providing 146 new affordable homes and building 357 new homes for sale.

The project will also mean new streets, green spaces and a new community centre. There will also be a new energy plant to provide more reliable and efficient heating and hot water and refurbishment of commercial units.

The housing PFI review came after the National Audit Office found that most PFI schemes used by councils to refurbish housing stock and provide new homes have overrun budgets and deadlines. The Homes and Communities Agency took on management responsibility for PFI scheme delivery in 2008.

PFI - where buildings are designed, built and often maintained by private consortia, with the cost paid back by the public sector over 25-30 years - has come under fierce criticism from MPs as bad value for money for taxpayers.

A wider Treasury call for evidence into PFI closed on Friday.

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