The Leeds Jewish Housing Association (LJHA) is proud to announce that the most significant sheltered housing construction project in its 70-year history has been shortlisted for Best Housing Development in the Chartered Institute of Housing Northern Awards 2023.
Founded in 1953, LJHA is committed to providing and maintaining sustainable housing, focusing predominantly on the needs of the local Jewish community.
The Best Housing Development Award “recognises developments that provide desirable and sustainable places to live, improving people’s lives within the community.”
The £14 million development scheme, located on Queenshill Avenue, Moortown, Leeds, comprises 85 new properties, including 51 sheltered housing apartments for people 55+ and 34 general needs apartments.
The sheltered housing apartments are constructed onto 130 existing properties as part of three buildings to form a sheltered village of 181 apartments for older people. There is secure access to the Ziff Community Centre, providing various culturally sensitive services, activities and food.
LJHA consulted with tenants about expansion and development options in 2007, but the global financial crash left the association only able to proceed with the first stage of a master plan in 2011.
A decade later, work began on an updated plan to build a new sheltered scheme on the former site of six family properties and 16 flats. The plans were announced in March 2019.
Of primary importance to the Board and staff was the well-being of 22 tenants whose properties would be demolished to make way for the new buildings and other amenities on-site, including car parking spaces and gardens. Consultations began immediately, and LJHA ensured the tenants had confidence that their every need would be catered for.
Homes England released grant funding of £6.8 million in March 2020, and, despite the pandemic, construction soon got underway with everyone on-site following the latest government guidance on safe working at all times. Demolition was understandably disruptive, but with personalised and regular communications with LJHA residents.
What Does The Development Mean For It’s Locals?
Last summer, the scheme was officially opened by Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, and Cllr Robert W Gettings, Lord Mayor of Leeds, who jointly unveiled two plaques at a special ceremony attended by political representatives, residents and members of the local community.
Ms Henderson told guests: “What is so remarkable about this is that it is about people – your home, your neighbourhood, your place – this community of everyone together.
“Massive congratulations to all of you, particularly to the team at Leeds Jewish Housing Association, for creating homes that reflect what the community wants and for being at the heart of the community.”
“Regeneration is never an easy option, but it is a brilliant thing you’ve done for this community and with this community.”
Cllr Gettings spoke of his previous visit to the Ziff Community Centre, which was joined to Cherry Tree House just a few weeks ago.
He said: “I expected to meet lots of Jewish people. In actual fact, I met not only lovely Jewish people but also Muslims, Sikhs, Catholics and others. Everyone was so wonderfully pleasant and happy to be living together.”
“It was community cohesion absolutely at its best. Leeds is doing fantastically well as far as community cohesion is concerned. Leeds Jewish Housing Association is a wonderful example of that.”
Jayne Wynicj, LJHA Chair, acknowledged the former residents of the 22 homes which were demolished to make way for the new development.
She also thanked the hard work and dedication LJHA staff and friends provided and contributions from Leo Baeck Housing Association, which funded initial feasibility studies, CAF Bank, Acanthus Architects, Identity Consult and development partners Equans.
She said: “15 percent of the Leeds Jewish community live with us. People go, but others come back or move here. We have a vibrant Jewish, and cultural life and people engage in many activities and voluntary work. We care for each other, and our housing association is the envy of many in other communities.”
Looking To The Future For The Leeds Jewish Housing Association
Looking to the future, Ms Wynick said: “We are not an organisation that stands still and are now looking at the family homes our community desperately needs.
“We need more to ensure we can provide families with the same safety net we offer our youngsters, elderly, couples and singles.”
“We need gardens where children can play safely and homes with room to grow.”
LJHA asked residents for their thoughts on what had been delivered.
One said: “I worried for years how I was going to manage my house and what would happen to me in my later years, I don’t have family, and now I feel like I’m going to be absolutely fine living here and all those worries have gone.”
Another said: “I never thought I’d live anywhere as beautiful as here. I can’t stop crying.”
A third added: “Honestly, you don’t realise what you have achieved here. It is just magic. You have changed my life; what this has created is magical.”
Responding to the news that LJHA had been shortlisted for the Chartered Institute of Housing Northern Award, Craig Simons, the association’s Director of Operations, said he was “thrilled.”
He commented: “The new development was many years in the planning, not helped by the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 just as construction was underway. However, LJHA and the Leeds Jewish community need to be more resilient and work closely with Equans; we were determined to see the project through to the end with minimal delays.
“Acanthus accompanied LJHA staff on road trips to other new build housing schemes to help reach final decisions on what was required aesthetically and how it would work, especially about older persons’ provision. Hiedi Lazenby was engaged with the task of delivering buildings with internal qualities every bit as impressive as the magnificent exteriors. Tenant groups also helped with various choices, including fixtures and fittings, bathrooms and kitchens.”
“The final result was 85 extremely impressive new homes in the heart of the community, low rent, modern, energy efficient, warm and secure. LJHA is proud of what has been achieved and delighted that the Chartered Institute of Housing has recognised this.”
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