The National Housing Federation Chief Executive and the Lord Mayor of Leeds were the guests of honour as Leeds Jewish Housing Association (LJHA) celebrated the opening of the biggest development project in its 69-year history.
Kate Henderson and Cllr Robert W Gettings jointly unveiled two plaques at a special ceremony attended by residents, political representatives and members of the local community to mark the completion of 85 new properties at Queenshill Avenue in Moortown, Leeds.
The scheme encompasses two buildings, Cherry Tree House, home to 51 sheltered housing apartments for those aged 55 and over, and Hillside, comprising 34 general needs flats.
The sheltered apartments are connected to 130 existing properties to form a sheltered village of 181 apartments for older people with secure access to the Ziff Community Centre.
The £14 million project, delivered with support from government housing agency Homes England, has increased LJHA’s overall stock by 13%.
Jayne Wynick, LJHA Chair, thanked the former residents of 22 homes which had to be demolished to make way for the new buildings.
She also praised the contributions of LJHA staff and friends, alongside a range of external organisations including the Leo Baeck Housing Association which funded initial feasibility studies, CAF Bank, Acanthus Architects, Identity Consult and development partners EQUANS.
She said: “15 per cent of the Leeds Jewish community live with us. People go but others come back or move here.
“We have a vibrant Jewish and cultural life and people engage in many activities and voluntary work.
“We care for each other and our housing association is the envy of many in other communities.”
Looking to the future, Ms Wynick said: “We are not an organisation that stands still and are now looking at the family homes our community desperately needs.
“We need more to ensure we can provide families with the same safety net we offer our youngsters, elderly, couples and singles.
“We need gardens where children can play safely and homes with room to grow.”
Kate Henderson, National Housing Federation Chief Executive, told guests: “What is so wonderful about this is that it is about people – your home, your neighbourhood, your place – this community of everyone together.
“Massive congratulations to all of you, particularly to the team at Leeds Jewish Housing Association for creating homes that reflect what the community wants and for being at the heart of the community.
“Regeneration is never the easy option, but it is a brilliant thing you’ve done for this community and with this community.”
Cllr Robert W Gettings, Lord Mayor of Leeds, referred to his previous visit to the Ziff Community Centre only last month.
He said: “I expected to meet lots of Jewish people. In actual fact, I met not only lovely Jewish people but also Muslims, Sikhs, Catholics and others.
“Everyone was so wonderfully pleasant and happy to be living together. I thought it was community cohesion absolutely at its best.
“Leeds is doing fantastically well as far as community cohesion is concerned. Leeds Jewish Housing Association is a wonderful example of that.”