Green light for development of former Huddersfield fire station – the first scheme of its kind

The development of a former Huddersfield fire station, by property developer SB Homes, has been given the go ahead by Kirklees Council – and will test-pilot a brand-new social housing scheme.

The 109-year-old Marsden building, which was purchased by the firm in 2017, is set to be developed into one house and 26 apartments, on the back of the planning approval.

But rather than selling the units, SB Homes will be renting the properties out, which meant that the typical 106 obligations – which place affordable housing requirements on developers – were more complex. The planning decision was therefore deferred in June.

The new agreement, decided in October – which could be rolled out to similar schemes across the UK if it works – will see SB Homes enter a section 106 with Kirklees Council, requiring the firm to provide two of the rental properties at 80% of the market value. Tenants will be taken from the council’s housing list, catering for those in most need of affordable housing.

Commenting on the agreement, Stephen Byram, managing director of SB Homes, said: “If we were selling the properties, we would have sold two of the apartments to a registered social landlord at cost price – and they would manage and rent the properties out. In effect, we’ll be doing exactly the same thing, but the properties will be managed by ourselves – and will be subject to all of the same conditions as a social landlord.”

SB Homes worked on a similar project in 2008. The firm built Ancion Court, in Marsden – a social housing scheme, managed by Connect Housing.

“The scheme worked really well for the community – there’s huge demand for affordable, accessible housing in our valley,” Stephen added. “While two of the units will ‘officially’ be affordable, we’re a local developer with roots in our community, so all 27 properties will be in line with affordable rates.”

Work on the former fire station has now begun.

David Storrie, planning consultant on the project, said: “Recent changes in the revised National Planning Policy Framework recognise the contribution that rented housing can make to delivering housing; and that private developers can assist in this delivery.

“SB Homes, as a long-established, local family-owned house builder, is pleased to be making headway with this new policy. I look forward to this quality scheme being delivered and am proud to have provided specialist town planning advice in securing the planning permission.”