First Time Buyer Initiative receives ‘colossal’ interest in North Solihull

(30th August 2007)

The initiative enables those with a household income of less than £60,000 to receive financial assistance, in order to make it easier to get a foothold on the property ladder. English Partnerships will contribute between 50 – 25 per cent of the purchase price, which is only required to be paid back when the property is sold.

Chapel Walk, which has a total of 97 houses and apartments, is being developed as part of the £1.8bn Regenerating North Solihull scheme that is transforming the three wards of Chelmsley Wood, Smith's Wood, Kingshurst & Fordbridge. Although most of the 31 properties available under the FTBI initiative have now been sold, many of the homes available on the open market are still available, such as the three-bedroom Cleeve house for £176,000, which includes a choice of plot.

Chapel Walk is being developed by Bellway Homes, one of the four partners in the North Solihull Partnership. An on-site sales and marketing suite is open daily to enable prospective purchasers to view the plans and specification. Chapel Walk is located on Chapelhouse Road, next to the recently opened Grace Academy that is providing state of the art secondary education to local children.

Stephen Rose, Sales Director of Bellway Homes West Midlands comments: "The colossal interest in English Partnership's First Time Buyer Initiative has exceeded all of our expectations. Providing better housing choice is a key aim of the Regenerating North Solihull scheme, and the apartments and houses on offer at Chapel Walk have significantly raised the bar in terms of the quality of accommodation in Fordbridge. Yet, with the First Time Buyers Initiative funding from English Partnerships, we are delighted these homes are being made available to local people at very affordable prices.

"There are still opportunities for people to take advantage of the initiative but with the exceptional level of interest, time is running out. Meanwhile, with 97 properties across the site, there is a wide choice of plots available on the open market from Â£176,000."

Besides Bellway, other partners in the North Solihull Partnership include regeneration specialists Inpartnership, Whitefriars Housing Group and Solihull Council. Over a 15-year period, 8,000 new homes will be built, 12,500 homes will be refurbished, 10 new primary schools and five village centres will be created, and there will be significant investment in open spaces and infrastructure improvements. All the secondary schools in the area are also being re-built as part of the trail-blazing first phase of the national Building Schools for the Future programme.

Bellway Homes reports that the 31 homes being made available through English Partnerships' First Time Buyers Initiative will have the same specification as those sold on the open market. 50 per cent of the FTBI properties at Chapel Walk have been made available specifically for key workers such as teachers, nurses, social workers, firefighters, prison and probation workers and police officers. The other 50 per cent have been made available to other first-time buyer groups who cannot otherwise afford to buy a home.

Requirements of English Partnerships' First Time Buyer Initiative include being able to pay a five per cent deposit from savings or access to sufficient funds. The scheme operates in a very different way from a typical shared ownership arrangement, as there is no rent to pay on the amount contributed by the government.

However, after three years, a fee of one per cent of the government contribution is required, which is payable in monthly instalments. In the next year, the fee rises to two per cent, and in the following year it is three per cent – where it remains there after. Whatever the English Partnerships contribution, the buyer will always hold 100 per cent of the property title.

This annual fee is designed to encourage FTBI homeowners to staircase their way up to full ownership, which can be done at any time at the prevailing market rate in blocks of 10 per cent or more. The opportunity to staircase gives buyers the flexibility to reflect any changes in their financial circumstances by increasing their mortgage repayments, and in turn, lessening the government's financial contribution from which it will draw an annual fee after three years, and a percentage of funds at the point of sale.

The Chapel Walk marketing suite, which is located on Chapelhouse Road, is open daily between 10am – 5pm. For all enquiries, please call the on site sales consultants on 0121 788 1709.




For further information, please contact Charlotte Crossley, Core Marketing, 0121 643 8151 or 07818 033 122,