Words by Steve Sharma / Pic of refurbishment supplied by WLCA
Hundreds more homes could now be refurbished and built across Erdington, as Witton Lodge Community Interest Company (WLCIC) has successfully become a Registered Provider.
The official status will allow the Perry Common based WLCIC to apply for funding to refurbish derelict properties, as well as to build new affordable and social housing – helping to address the city’s ongoing housing crisis.
According to the Birmingham City Council, Birmingham is facing a population increase of around 156,000 people by 2031 – leaving a housing shortage of nearly 90,000 homes.
Gareth Hopkins, Homes and Assets Manager for Witton Lodge, said: “Achieving Registered Provider status enables Witton Lodge CIC to progress its housing development aspirations.
“There are currently around 17,000 housing applicants on Birmingham City Council’s waiting list (May 2021) and over 9,000 empty properties across the city (August 2019)
“Homes England (the national government agency for development and regulation of affordable housing) has a national funding pot to address the housing shortage.
“By becoming a Registered Provider we can now apply directly for funding to develop and manage properties.
“We can now pursue the refurbishment of even more empty properties, those which have become a blight on local communities and can cause issues such as anti-social behaviour.”
Witton Lodge Community Interest Company was formed in 2015 as a subsidiary of Witton Lodge Community Association (WLCA) to progress housing and community asset development goals.
WLCA is a charity with a successful track record of community-led housing and capital asset development across North Birmingham – established by local residents in 1994, in response to plans to demolish the Perry Common estate.
Since then, WLCA have built and manage 187 properties, as well as developing other community assets such Perry Common Community Hall and Perry Common Library.
The Association organises and delivers a rolling programme of community support and engagement activities – tackling issues from employment and digital poverty to health and wellbeing, many of which became crucial lifelines during lockdowns.
WLCA are also currently running special employment support services from Perry Common Library as part of the Ignite Aspirations initiative, to help people over 29 get back to work after Covid.
Chief Officer, Afzal Hussain, said: “We’re delighted that Witton Lodge CIC has achieved Registered Provider status. The team and Board have worked hard to get us to this stage, however, in many ways the real work starts now as we know there is huge demand for good quality, affordable homes.
“Another important feature is the ‘community-led’ element, where we are able demonstrate that there is a different model to developing new housing, which works with the grain of local communities.
“The work of the CIC will also complement the charitable activities of the Association which provides health, employment and community support services to hundreds of local residents.”
For more on Witton Lodge Community Association visit wwwwittonlodge.org.uk