A vision which intends to deliver more than 5,000 new homes in South Lakeland by 2025 could support thousands of jobs as well as easing the acute housing shortage. MIKE ADDISON examines the potential impact for the building sector and reveals the extent of planned public consultation over future developments.
ACCORDING to the Home Builders’ Federation, every new house built in Britain supports 1.5 full-time site and office jobs and another three posts in the supply chain.
On that basis, South Lakeland District Council’s (SLDC’s) plans for 5,227 new homes could in theory secure almost 24,000 jobs.
However, the figure has to be treated with a great deal of caution because a team of builders does not just work on one house and builders’ merchant staff do not supply to just one site.
What is clear, however, is that such a huge number of houses has the potential to secure many existing jobs and create a large number of new ones. And, yes, it may add up to thousands.
Of course, the jobs will not all come at once and some of them will be filled by the same contractors; but even so, the local construction sector will doubtless benefit.
SLDC says this is already happening in the district as potential new sites, agreed by a government planning inspector despite strong community and political opposition, get under way.
For example, work on 94 homes at Russell Armer’s Cragg Close development in Sandylands, Kendal, is expected to support between 30 and 50 jobs on site at any one time over the next three years.
Among the seven apprentices recruited for the site is plumber Nathan Forrest, 21, from Kendal, who had almost completed his industry qualification when he was made redundant last year due to a lack of work.
He began sending his CV out, leading to the opportunity with Russell Armer.
“It’s difficult for young people at the moment,” said Nathan. “There were five people on my Kendal College course, but with people being made redundant I’m the only one that has been able to continue to Level 3 of my apprenticeship.
“It was good timing for me with them starting work on a big site like this, and housing schemes like this are really important in enabling builders to take on apprentices.”
The scheme is also supporting jobs among sub-contractors. Of the 35 people currently on site, 20 are in this category.
Kendal-based Steve Selby Building Contractors was hired by Russell Armer for the scheme and four or five bricklayers are employed on site at any time.
Brickie Russ Carradus, 48, from Kendal, said: “The company has to keep winning contracts like this to keep jobs going.”
Russell Armer’s construction director, Andrew Taylor, 53, who started as an apprentice in 1977, said: “You get a knock-on benefit for local businesses like the paper shop, the café or the petrol station, both in Kendal and near where the people working on the site live. The council’s commitment in its Local Plan to ensure sites are designated for new homes gives us the confidence we need to invest in apprenticeships and jobs.”
Elsewhere, ten new jobs have been created with Esh Property Services as the company delivers 80 affordable homes at Windermere Road, Kendal, Guldrey Lane, Sedbergh and Berners Close, Grange-over-Sands.
Altogether, 16 apprentices will be taken on or retained by Esh or its sub-contractors, while more than 90 new or upgraded qualifications will be studied for.
Meanwhile, sub-contractor Brendan Walsh secured contracts for his Levens firm Brendan Walsh Plastering at the Sedbergh and Kendal sites.
He has had 12 people working at Sedbergh since October, including two people hired especially for that scheme.
“It helps a lot to have these housing schemes coming through and over the last year we have probably taken on 14 temporary staff,” said Brendan.
“And they are meeting a real need for affordable homes; I noticed that my first terraced house in Windermere, which I bought for £15,000 in 1981, is now worth £250,000.
“People have no chance of affording that if they haven’t got a job.”