14th August 2023
Firstly, I want to recognise the awful events of the 8th August 2019 which will have significantly disrupted your lives and caused much upset and I acknowledge the difficult four years of uncertainty that have since passed, especially in respect to the rebuild and provision of your home at Beechmere.
As you may know, your Beechmere home was part of a PFI project involving many stakeholders, including Avantage, the project company, Central Government, Local Councils (Cheshire East and Cheshire West & Chester), the project company’s funders (Nationwide) and Your Housing. At the time of the fire Your Housing was a minority shareholder in Avantage and, in keeping with Government policy for PFI projects of this type, it held a long leasehold interest in respect of the Beechmere buildings and site.
There have been many consequences because of the fire, not least those already acknowledged regarding the loss of your homes and possessions, some of course which were no doubt irreplaceable and linked to treasured memories, and I do not underestimate the profound loss you felt and continue to experience.
For so long as the project remains in place, the obligation to reinstate Beechmere rests with Avantage. It is not open to Your Housing to override that obligation and put in place its own arrangements to carry out the rebuild.
It has been clear for a significant period of time now that the PFI requires additional funding to facilitate the rebuild and all the parties have been working extremely hard to try and reach a solution, but this has taken far longer to resolve than anticipated.
Your Housing has done as much as it can to try expedite matters and minimise the delays to the Beechmere rebuild or, for those that do not wish to have a home in the rebuilt Beechmere, to be compensated for the loss of your home. We have always been clear that the buy back of any leases would be subject to us reaching an agreed position on rescue (Deed of Variation) with all parties to the PFI. Our best estimate for agreeing a settlement is currently the end of this year (or early next year) for the Beechmere rebuild terms to be finalised and signed off by all relevant stakeholders. We will of course update you further as matters hopefully continue to move forward.
In the meantime, we have obtained independent valuations on the Beechmere apartments; one based on the value at the time of the fire and the other based on a current valuation (assuming Beechmere had not been destroyed). Your Housing’s Board has agreed that, when we are in a position to progress the acquisition of your existing leases, we can proceed to purchase of the apartments for those leaseholders who wish to sell, based on the higher of today’s date or the 2019 valuation.
I also want to reiterate, from previous discussions that have taken place, that leaseholders who do not wish to sell their apartment before it is rebuilt (or because they wish to move back into the rebuilt Beechmere) will not be compelled by Your Housing to sell.
Your Housing remains committed to trying to resolve this matter as quickly as is possible and our team are happy to arrange individual meetings at an agreed time to accommodate leaseholders and will also provide a further update in October to outline where matters are.
Director of Housing & Customer Service