Residents, local councillors and representatives of Keech Hospice, Luton Council and ENGIE, the contractor responsible for delivery of the whole regeneration project, were present to witness the unveiling of a commemorative plaque.
John Healey MP, shadow secretary of state for housing and Denise Elcock-Jules unveiled the plaque on Anthony Jules Court, named in honour of her late husband, Tony, who had been part of the original Marsh Farm regeneration steering group. Whilst terminally ill, Anthony had helped raise over £40,000 for local charity, Keech Hospice.
Denise said: “I am delighted to be here today. Marsh Farm meant such a lot to Tony. To think that future generations will be made aware of his legacy is truly humbling and together with his sons I am honoured to see him remembered in this way.”
John Healey said: “I am proud to join Denise today to unveil this plaque to Anthony Jules. Luton Council is doing sterling work to crack the housing crisis. Everyone knows someone who can't get the home they need or aspire to. This new council housing is what's needed for communities like Marsh Farm and is proof of the difference a Labour council makes.
“Nationally Labour’s alternative vision for housing is so important to ending the crisis: a big council housebuilding programme at scale, new rights for renters, help for first-time buyers with new discount homes linked to local incomes, and an end to rough sleeping."
The final phase comprises 83 apartments, 11 houses, play areas, parking and new landscaping. The housing is all affordable rented accommodation for council residents. Of the houses, four of them are four-bedroom homes, of which two are dedicated to families with disabilities, including ground floor double bedrooms and wet rooms with capacity for a through floor lift to enable users to have access to all parts of the home. The properties have been built to life time homes standards.
Cllr Tom Shaw, portfolio holder for Housing, said: “This is a momentous day not just for Marsh Farm but for the whole town. We are committed to providing top quality buildings local people can make their homes. Incoming investment is being translated not only in to bricks and mortar, but opportunities for residents as we work towards our goal of tackling poverty by 2040.”
The extensive £32m scheme is part of the council’s ongoing commitment to regenerating Luton, attracting new businesses to the town and offering more local jobs for local people. The project has also provided valuable apprenticeships for school leavers looking to begin a career in the construction industry.
Phase 1, which was completed in September 2017, saw the provision of six new retail units with modern facilities, and 24 new apartments. This attractive, modern structure has already had a remarkable impact on the area, providing key local facilities that have significantly contributed towards the life of the community.
The second phase was the demolition of the Purley Centre which had, over time, become run down. This demolition paved the way for the final phase which includes the eleven new houses built.
Andy Collyer, Business Development Director, ENGIE commented “It is great to see the project come together after years of hard work.”
“We are delighted that we could deliver such a pinnacle scheme for Luton and offer a new heart to the regenerated Marsh Farm neighbourhood. It’s great to see that residents have moved into their new homes and we are proud to be able to offer a scheme with such high-quality affordable housing. We are excited to see Marsh Farm continue to flourish in years to come.”
ENGIE is pleased to say that the scheme was handed over ahead of schedule.
The entire scheme was designed in partnership with the Marsh Farm Steering Group which consisted of residents, businesses and key stakeholders from the Marsh Farm estate.