Major plans to redevelop central Middlesbrough with the first large-scale town centre social housing in a generation are being brought forward.
Middlesbrough Council is set to establish a partnership with Thirteen Housing Group and North Star Housing Group to help deliver ambitious housing plans.
The partnership will allow the authority to identify sites in its ownership, primarily in urban locations but potentially throughout the town, to help the housing development programme.
Thirteen and North Star will bring their experience and expertise to deliver the transformative projects.
The first developments are expected to be in Gresham and Middlehaven with Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston hailing a “new era” for town centre living.
He said: “We’ve got two brilliant partners on board in Thirteen and North Star who really share our ambitions for high quality housing and a town centre that is safe and vibrant.
“Middlesbrough people desperately want to see something happen with Gresham and I can promise them we are going to be getting on with it straight away.
“Our partners bring the resources and expertise that can help us make an absolutely amazing community that really fuels the town centre.”
The mayor has stated his ambition to attract an additional four thousand people to live in the town centre in the next ten years.
Major developers often perceive the town centre to be higher risk for housebuilding with high development costs and lower sales values.
In those circumstances there is a need to kick-start a market such is being proposed by the council and its partners.
Mr Preston added: “This is a real socialism in action policy and the first really big social housing programme in the town centre in a long, long time.”
Ian Wardle, Thirteen’s chief executive, said: “We are delighted to be working with Middlesbrough Council and North Star Housing Group to deliver much-needed affordable homes in the centre of Middlesbrough.
“Thirteen owns and manages over 11,000 homes in Middlesbrough and we want to invest further in the area.
“There is growing demand for high quality homes close to all the amenities Middlesbrough has to offer and as people move through life, they want more choice. Choice to rent, to rent and then purchase or to buy-in-part through shared ownership.
“This is an exciting time for the regeneration of the town and over the coming months we look forward to announcing many new housing schemes.”
Angela Lockwood, CEO of North Star, said: “Over 40 years ago we began life as a Housing Association in Middlesbrough. During that time, we have always remained committed to the people and communities of the town.
“Over the years we have continually invested in our properties and communities as well as building new homes. We are proud to be part of this exciting initiative.”
The establishment of a thriving urban living market is seen as key to diversifying the town centre economy and lead to the development of new commercial, leisure, cultural and food and drink offers.