Saffron Lane Neighbourhood Council - Leicester


  • The Saffron Lane Neighbourhood Council (SLNC) exists to provide a range of services to support disadvantaged residents of the Saffron Lane Estate and environs to reach their full potential. The neighbourhood is recognised as one of the most deprived in the country
  • Established by community leaders in 1976, with support from Leicester City Council, the object of SLNC has always been to work in partnership with statutory and voluntary organisations to improve the health, education, and well-being of the community
  • Through its Resource Centre, SLNC provides a wide range of support services for the local community, such as debt and benefits advice, youth work, drugs/counselling and tenancy support. It also manages a 12 acre community food growing project called Saffron Acres
  • In 2012 a decision was taken to approach Leicester City Council about the possibility of taking over the disused 13 acre allotment site next to Saffron Acres, with a view to seeing it developed as housing for local people
  • After lengthy negotiations the site was transferred by the City Council to SLNC for £1, on the condition that they worked in partnership with a housing association to develop the site
  • East Midlands Housing Association (EMHA) was chosen as partner, and in 2016 it completed a scheme comprising 68 Passivhaus affordable rented dwellings, the biggest such scheme in the UK at that time. EMHA raised £7.5million and the Homes and Communities Agency (now Homes England) contributed and additional £2.5million in grant
  • SLNC has granted EMHA a lease for 125 years and in return they pay SLNC £500 per property in ground rent, creating an annual rental stream of £35k for SLNC
  • The houses are built to Passivhaus standards and achieve a 75% reduction in space heating requirements compared to standard practice for UK new build, making them extremely economical
  • There is now scope for SLNC to develop a further 20 dwellings on the remaining undeveloped part of the site as part of Phase 2 and they are currently exploring various avenues in order to raise the necessary finance

Key Messages

  • Leicester City Council’s decision to transfer the freehold of the site to a local community-led organisation, working in partnership with a housing association, has been vindicated by the successful completion of the scheme in around 18 months
  • The housing association was able to lever in public and private funding to undertake the project, at no cost to the local authority.  "I am delighted that we were able to regenerate a disused site and breathe new life into the community." Chan Kataria, EMH Group Chief Executive
  • The local authority has secured an additional 68 units of affordable housing
  • Ownership of the land and ground rental income of £35,000 a year for 125 years, together with the possibility of further housing development, contributes towards making SNCRC a more sustainable and robust organisation

Where To Find Out More

Information about Saffron Lane Neighbourhood Council and its Resource Centre is here.

A more detailed case study of the scheme is here.

A news release from East Midlands Housing Association is here.

Building the Eco-homes Saffron Film.

The Local Authority Planning Consent is available here.


Published in March 2018