Matson and Podsmead – Improving Our Estates

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The Matson and Podsmead Community Regeneration Vision Statement was signed in August by Richard Graham, the leaders of both County and City Councils and the Chair of Gloucester City Homes.

“The statement commits us all to work as partners and contribute in different ways to a major Estate Regeneration in both these important wards – creating a master plan with residents that will ultimately provide better homes, shops, employment opportunities and lives. If GCH can partner effectively with the right developer(s) I am convinced there will be a lot of positive change for the communities. Better shops, better health and skills access are all part of the mix. I’m delighted we all feel the same way.” – Richard Graham MP

The Vision Statement builds on a successful £1.25 million government bid, recognising that some of the housing in both wards is not as good as it could be, and that a better mix of social, affordable, shared equity and owner occupied housing is a future ambition.

Gloucester City Homes gained ownership of several sites in Matson and Podsmead after they became an independent housing association in 2015. The City Council transferred their housing stock to GCH when the government agreed to wipe out £50 million of historic housing debt.

“Estate regeneration in Matson and Podsmead is a major task and we need the full support, funding and assets that each of our organisations can bring to the table: and then work closely with residents to develop a master plan. With building costs and values as they are we need to stretch every pound to succeed, and I’m delighted that Richard, Mark, Paul and Jennie share our belief about the importance of this huge project

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This is the next stage of our goal to work with our tenants and all stakeholders, to create modern, new homes which are more energy efficient and greener in communities where everyone can be proud. This has been a long running plan for GCH to be at the forefront of change, making homes and developments that really matter to residents. This collaboration is key to making the most of the land owned by different organisations, while accessing all funding available to maximise this opportunity in Matson and Podsmead.” – Gloucester City Homes Chair Tim Dare

“We’ve been working with GCH on this from the beginning, and as land owner, planning authority and as the only organisation focused entirely on the well-being of the city, I want to see us help respond to Podsmead and Matson’s needs and get this right. The impact should be considerable.” – City Council leader Paul James

“It’s important that all organisations work together on this ambitious plan to support these communities. I’m glad we’ve published this strategy today that outlines what we plan to do and I look forward to seeing the results.” – County Council leader Mark Hawthorne

Richard Graham (MP for Gloucester), Tim Dare (Chair of Gloucester City Homes), Cllr Paul James (Leader of Gloucester City Council) and Cllr Mark Hawthorne (Leader of Gloucestershire County Council) signing the Vision Statement alongside the City Council Cabinet Member for Housing Cllr Colin Organ

 The Background

Parts of Matson and Podsmead look tired now

Churchill famously once said ‘we shape buildings and then they shape us’. The £1.25m Estates Regeneration award won by Gloucester City Homes, with strong support from the City Council and I, is all about this dynamic.

Our physical goal is to transform the post war estates in Matson and Podsmead, two wards of Gloucester which will hugely benefit from new and better buildings, landscaping and overall look. I know GCH will respect key green areas and local priorities.

There are encouraging precedents: the micro regeneration of the sites of former pubs The Musket (Matson) and Jet & Whittle (Podsmead) by GCH and Green Square respectively have already shown that good value and good materials can go together successfully. And then the buildings have shaped a great sense of pride in surroundings.

I’ve wanted to see a transformation since I first walked around both wards ten years ago. I wanted to see the most made, especially of Matson’s, beautiful natural setting with a more attractive man-made contribution.

Now the combination of GCH’s new status as a stand alone company and the £50m housing debt write off I achieved from the last government, plus a good pitch by GCH to this new government programme, means transformation is now, at last, possible.

This is the next stage of GCH’s journey under Ashley Green: from managing city council housing stock to independent company driving housing regeneration in city and county.

As Citizen Editor Jenny Eastwood notes it’s a great win for all of Gloucester, because regeneration has to be spread everywhere across our city.

This is a good example of a new source of funding through the government. To succeed we need great ideas, and I spend a lot of time either thinking what we could do (like the major Blackfriars scheme or the new railway car park) or writing letters of support for others’ good ideas. The teamwork between MP and different organisations in our city is incredibly important and rating low on political squabbling is one reason we’re winning more bids.

But this is only the beginning of the estate regeneration. The detail is critical. We’re rightly sceptical of big promises in Gloucester and residents of Matson and Podsmead will want to know exactly what’s planned before getting excited about it. But residents have seen the good new housing in Painswick Road, locally designed by Aqua, and that should bring confidence that GCH will bring forward some good plans and designs.

Meanwhile I think we should be proud of our Housing company, and pleased that the Gloucester team is together winning funding for Estate regeneration, against competition from all over the country. Let’s now shape some great new housing and infrastructure – and then be optimistic about how it will then shape us.

New GCH and Green Square homes in Matson and Podsmead