Rio Ferdinand's regeneration company readies planning application

The first planning application from a company set up by former Manchester United and England footballer Rio Ferdinand to provide affordable housing and sports facilities to serve deprived communities is expected to be submitted within the next few months, it was revealed last week.

Legacy: firm aims to deliver schemes with up to 50% affordable housing
Legacy: firm aims to deliver schemes with up to 50% affordable housing

Speaking at the Mipim UK property conference, backers of the Legacy Foundation scheme - which is being spearheaded by Ferdinand alongside fellow footballers Bobby Zamora and Mark Noble - said its first project in Bedfordshire would be moving forward next year and that an outline planning application would be submitted by February. The firm aims to deliver projects with up to 50 per cent affordable housing.

The Bedfordshire scheme will aim to deliver between 700 to 1,200 homes, incorporating a mix of build to rent, affordable and social housing, on a 22-hectare council-owned site at Kingsland, on the edge of Houghton Regis. It is also intended to provide a sports academy, educational and community facilities.

"We know that there is an outcry for more affordable housing and so we want to be at the forefront of putting that out as quickly as we can," said Ferdinand. "But we also know the quality of delivery has to be of a certain standard, so there needs to be time for that."

"We want to move forward as quickly as we can but we recognise that there is a planning and design process to go through," said the project’s consultant, Colliers International director Richard Walsh. "We would like to be on site in the fourth quarter of 2017 or the first quarter of 2018, depending on planning."

Andrew Davie, development infrastructure group manager at Central Bedfordshire Council, said the scheme would form a link between the existing community and new housing which is being developed on a major expansion area at the edge of the town.

"We don’t want to develop it in isolation", he said. "This is the first Legacy scheme, so it needs to be an exemplar scheme that sets a benchmark for the ones that will follow."

Ferdinand said the project was inspired by the experience of growing up a council estate. "We have a very good understanding of how these communities work, what makes them tick and what’s missing," he said.

He said a key part of the process would be engaging with the local community on how they would like to see the scheme develop.

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