Eyes down for new full houses – Residents of Mill Farm Close celebrate Topping Out

Local residents employed on the construction site are among guests from Mill Farm Close, London Borough of Harrow, Catalyst Housing and Higgins Construction who celebrated the latest milestone of this £22 million regeneration on Thursday (15 December).

The regeneration marked the Topping Out ceremony, a traditional construction event to celebrate completion of a building’s frame. In this case it celebrated reaching the highest point of the new estate at four storeys high. This followed a celebratory ‘bingo’ lunch on the estate.

This is the first of three construction phases, which will see Mill Farm Close transformed and completely regenerated. In 2009, 88% of tenants who took part in a ballot voted in favour of becoming tenants of Catalyst Housing and for the regeneration plans, which will deliver 158 properties. These include a new home offered to every Catalyst tenant currently living on the estate, shared ownership properties and homes for private sale. Residents have had input into the design of the estate and have chosen wall colours, floor coverings and kitchen units for their new homes, as well as having a choice of the location of their new home where possible.

Six residents of Mill Farm Close have found employment during the regeneration in trades ranging from carpentry to administration, thanks to a partnership between Catalyst Housing and Higgins Construction.

The regeneration is also helping to tackle the digital divide. The government’s digital champion Martha Lane Fox revealed this month that nearly half of the people that aren’t online are social tenants. Catalyst Housing has provided every home on Mill Farm Close with a laptop computer along with training to help them get access to online information, including information about the regeneration.

Portfolio holder for housing, London Borough of Harrow, Cllr Bob Currie said:

‘I am pleased that residents at Mill Farm have been closely involved in the regeneration with a number of job opportunities and training schemes underway. We are very lucky to have strong and united communities in Harrow and it is our priority that this is maintained and nurtured for future generations. We are working with the team at Catalyst and Higgins to make sure that this ambitious regeneration continues to be a great success.’

Anne-Marie, a resident who found employment on the construction site was at the event and commented:

‘I love my job. Thanks to Catalyst and Higgins I’ve been given an opportunity and a real fighting chance.’

Rod Cahill, Chief Executive of Catalyst Housing said:

‘We pride ourselves in being experts in regeneration, and I’m thrilled to see Mill Farm Close progressing so well. It’s really important that jobs have been created on site for residents. As well as an income this offers people training and skills that will be invaluable in the tough financial conditions that everyone is facing.’

Steve Leakey, Managing Director of Higgins Construction said:

‘We are proud to be involved in this project and excited that so many local people have been employed here.’

Residents voted for the stock transfer to Catalyst Housing in April 2010. Work began on site in September 2010 and the first completions will take place in January 2012. Residents will begin to move into their new homes from February 2012.