Jewish housing association's vision for Harrogate

Mark Grandfield, the chief executive of the Leeds Jewish Housing Association.
Mark Grandfield, the chief executive of the Leeds Jewish Housing Association.

The chief executive of an organisation specialising in developing housing for Jewish communities has spoken of his vision for Harrogate.

Mark Grandfield is the head of the Leeds Jewish Housing Association (LJHA), which secured £14,950 from Harrogate Borough Council this month to begin exploring affordable housing projects in the district.

The LJHA - which is based in north Leeds and has almost 500 homes on its books - has never developed in Harrogate, but Mr Grandfield said the region's small Jewish population and position "next door" to Leeds made it an attractive move.

"One of our aspirations over the coming years is to grow and develop more affordable homes, our primary focus is north Leeds but we know there is a small Jewish population in Harrogate," he said, adding that recent research into the Jewish community had revealed an interest in housing in the area.

"So we want to know more about the community, their housing needs and opportunities for help that flourish," he said.

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The £14,950 comes from a £585,832 grant which the council received from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government as part of a nationwide initiative to help create Community Led Housing (CLH), in which community groups lead the way in developing affordable housing.

Less than £85,000 of the £585,832 specialist grant has been allocated to trusts so far, with a council report stating it was because of the lack of organisations ready to commence work.

A report on the item states that the grant would be used by LJHA to employ someone to form a Community Housing Trust (CHT) which would then work on creating affordable housing projects.

LJHA stated its intent is to create five affordable homes within 18 months of the trust being formed.

"So this grant will enable us to dedicate someone to talking with the local Jewish community about their needs and aspirations as well as the practical tasks involved," he said.

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"Developing new homes doesn't happen quickly as everyone knows but HBC has been very helpful so far and long may that continue."

Mr Grandfield said the ultimate aim would be for the housing association to hand over Harrogate operations to a local trust.

"The Community Land Trust approach the government is trying to stimulate here is not a housing association coming in and building homes, but a community group setting up their own Trust to manage a project," he said.

"What we at LJHA are trying to do is stimulate such a group within the Harrogate Jewish community that ultimately would be self-sufficient."

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporting Service