City council to buy student flats scheme in £5.5m deal

The Zip Building

Leicester City Council is set to be buy a student flats development and turn it into affordable housing.

The authority plans to use £2.4m of Right to Buy cash to overcome a shortage of affordable homes in a deal that will be worth £5.5m.

The Zip Building, on Rydal Street consists of 58 flats and bedsits which will be added to the council’s own stock of affordable housing.

The Zip Building dates back to around 1900 and was built to the designs of regionally renowned Stockdale Harrison for Thompson & Co wholesale boot and shoe manufacturers. By the mid-20th century, it had been converted into a hosiery factory. The building was redeveloped as residential accommodation around 12 years ago.

The majority of the 47 units in the Zip Building are one-bed flats and bedsits. The remaining units are a mix of two-bed flats – including two wheelchair accessible properties – and three- and four-bed cluster flats. The council will invest up to £550,000 in improvements to the building, including remodelling two of the cluster flats into separate, self-contained flats.

The city council has negotiated the contract so that all existing tenancies can be honoured until Summer 2023.

Councillor Elly Cutkelvin, assistant city mayor for housing said: “There is a desperate need for more affordable housing in the city.

“There is no doubt that the Right to Buy scheme has hit the supply of council housing hard. We’re losing homes much faster that they are being built and it’s time the Right to Buy scheme was abandoned. We have been forced to sell thousands of council houses over the past 30 years.

“That makes it absolutely vital that we invest our Right to Buy cash receipts back into addressing our local and critical need for more affordable homes.”