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Buyers building homes and communities using 'sweat equity'

An award-winning charity will cut the cost of homeownership in Wigan by up to £10,000, by offering buyers the chance to save by working on the development.

Housing People, Building Communities (HPBC) has been granted planning permission to develop a vacant church and presbytery into affordable homes. Work is expected to begin in May.

And for the first time ever in the borough, HPBC will offer a reduction on the purchase price by using buyers’ sweat equity to save money towards a deposit.


The not-for-profit organisation is dedicated to changing lives by addressing the housing crisis with a combination of self-build, volunteering and philanthropy.

The project will be delivered in partnership with Prima Housing Group, who are a social housing provider operating across the North West with a vision to create good quality, safe and affordable homes, helping to build strong communities.

Affordable housing

The site, in Ince Green Lane, Ince, has lain empty since 2017. The charity was approached by the Liverpool RC Archdiocese in 2020 who were keen to explore whether the church and presbytery could be retained and repurposed to provide affordable housing for local people using HPBC’s unique model.  Plans were submitted to provide 27 new homes. 

The former church will be converted into 10 two and three bed houses/apartments, the presbytery into a three bed, two bed and one bed apartments, and the grounds behind will accommodate 14 three-bed houses.

The appealing design will incorporate the architecture of the church to conserve and retain the character, history and charm of the building, an early twentieth-century red brick lancet Gothic style church, built in 1911.

Said HPBC Chief Executive Liza Parry:” We are thrilled to be granted planning permission for St Williams, our experience elsewhere has shown us how this development has the potential to be a huge success in the area.

“We had to overcome many obstacles, including some vandalism during the delays, but the local residents have been extremely supportive and have kept an eye on the buildings.

“The church has always been a landmark in the area and the development will help shape a new community, based on shared values and will give a much needed offering for Wigan.”

“The residents will be creating a real community by contributing to building their own homes and those of their neighbours.”

John Ghader, Chief Executive of Prima Group commented “We are excited to partner with HPBC in delivering and funding this project, this will complement our other development projects which support a range of underrepresented groups providing new homes for people on low incomes, with mental health or mobility issues, older people and children.

Innovative approach

“The unique nature of the St Williams project underpins our vision of creating affordable homes and building communities.  We believe this model may become more popular and will be looking to deliver more schemes in the future.

HPBC’s innovative approach, to help local people get on the property ladder by using 500 hours of sweat equity to reduce their deposit by £10,000, has enabled residents on previous developments to buy, where they may have typically struggled to raise a deposit.

The homes, which will be completed by contractors Holmpatrick Developments Ltd, by October 2024, will give the opportunity for the home buyers, their family and friends to utilise their own skills (and learn new skills) ranging from on-site labour, painting & decorating, and landscaping to admin, marketing and IT support.

Liza Parry added: “We would very much welcome enquiries from people wanting to find out more details as to how they can apply to become buyers now the planning permission has been granted.”

The scheme has been supported by Wigan Council and successfully attracted grant funding from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) Brownfield Housing Fund.   A decision on further funding through the Affordable Homes Programme delivered by Homes England is expected imminently.


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