The closure of Allerton Bywater’s coalmine in 1992 marked the end of an era for the West Yorkshire community that had depended on mining for more than two centuries. Village life began to suffer with the closure of the local school, a lack of employment opportunities and the decline of the Miners’ Welfare Hall. Since 2006, a partnership between the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and development partners including Miller Homes and Barratt Developments Plc is delivering comprehensive regeneration of the existing community, with 520 new homes and improved local facilities and services.
The village of Allerton Bywater in West Yorkshire has long been associated with the coal industry. Home to the regional headquarters of the British Coal Board, the area’s destiny, prosperity and identity were closely intertwined with mining for more than two centuries. However, that ended with the closure of the Allerton Bywater Colliery in 1992. When the last shift finished, coal mining not only ceased in the village, but in Leeds as a whole.
The colliery once provided jobs for local people, bound the community together and was central to village life. But with the pit gone, employment opportunities dwindled, the local primary school closed, the British Coal Board headquarters became derelict and the local Miners’ Welfare Hall fell into disrepair.
The village of 4,000 residents, which lies 10km to the south east of Leeds, needed a new vision for the future, one which would include new homes, improved community facilities and services, and jobs. The village, now managed by the HCA, became the second Millennium Community in the year 2000. Plans for new sustainable development soon followed, in line with the programme’s ambition to create sustainable places in challenging locations.
A new development of 520 homes is under construction at Allerton Bywater, linked to the existing village. Its inclusion in the Millennium Communities programme, along with HCA investment totalling £24m, has played a critical role in bringing plans to life. The scheme has been divided into 12 plots for development purposes, with significant progress already made on delivering housing, live-work units and better community facilities. HCA funding has enabled infrastructure including new roads, a HomeZone system, a sustainable urban drainage system and utility services to be put in place, prior to the construction of new homes.
All new homes built to date have met the EcoHomes ‘Excellent’ standard. Work is underway on the Miller Homes’ development of 197 homes (including 39 affordable shared-ownership homes delivered through the Home Housing Group) designed around a HomeZone streetscape which gives equal priority to pedestrians and car users. Developer Fleming Fusion has completed a 23-home development that won a Building for Life gold award in 2007.
“The area has a lovely rural feel to it, yet you’re only a few minutes from the city. There’s plenty of green open space for children to play or people to walk their dogs. The homes themselves are great.” Adrian and Hannah Borkala, residents at Allerton Bywater Millennium Village
This phase, along with Barratt Homes’ 151-home development at Plot 5 includes homes built using modern methods of construction techniques. Barratt Developments’ scheme also formed part of the Government’s Design for Manufacture Competition that challenged the construction industry to build quality homes for £60,000 construction costs.
A joint venture between the HCA and Langtree plc has delivered 16 workspace units, the first in the country to meet the BREEAM ‘Excellent’ standard. The construction of these units helped to create 100 jobs. Later phases will involve the construction of 2,322 sq m of commercial and retail space.
A green travel plan for the Millennium Community at Allerton Bywater is also encouraging residents to adopt more sustainable lifestyles.
HCA funding totalling £2m has also helped to deliver improved community facilities at Allerton Bywater including the refurbishment of the infant school and Miners’ Welfare Hall, a new skate park, allotments, library, rejuvenated bowling green and public open space including cycle paths. Residents have been kept involved in the redevelopment plans through the Allerton Bywater Community Partnership.
The HCA has helped deliver a new community of 520 homes, plus improved local facilities and services at Allerton Bywater. The new Millennium Community has strong links with the existing village of Allerton Bywater and is demonstrating that a site formerly dominated by heavy industry can be reborn as a modern sustainable housing development.
HCA funding and partnership working with local residents and developers have enabled significant progress to be made on site. A desirable location is taking shape that offers all the attractions of rural development with ease of access to the city of Leeds.
Homes at Allerton Bywater are built using the very latest methods of house construction and design, with future phases expected to meet the stringent standards set out in the Code for Sustainable Homes. The creation of the Allerton Bywater Community Partnership is ensuring new community facilities are well maintained and new funding opportunities for future amenities are being explored.
Miller Homes, Allerton Bywater Community Partnership, Fleming Fusion, Barratt Developments plc, Langtree plc and Leeds City Council.
Adrian and Hannah Borkala said: “We’ll have been in our house at Allerton Bywater’s Millennium Village three years this August and we couldn’t be happier. We’d been living for a year in a flat in Rodley in Leeds but wanted to get on the property ladder and own our own home. We took one look at the new community taking shape at Allerton Bywater and decided we wanted to make our home there.
“You certainly get more for your money than you do in Leeds. The area has a lovely rural feel to it, yet you’re only a few minutes from the city. There’s plenty of green open space for children to play or people to walk their dogs.
“The homes themselves are great. The rooms are a decent size and there’s a good size back garden. As we were first-time buyers we didn’t have any white goods so it was really helpful to have items such as the fridge and washing machine included in the price. We were also given lots of choice in terms of the fixtures and fittings, everything from the carpet to the units and worktops in the kitchen.
“There’s a really strong sense of community here already. We’ve become friends with lots of our neighbours and even been away on holiday with some of them.”