Red Kite will sell off the Castlefield ‘star blocks’ it bought from Wycombe District Council in 2011 it had planned to redevelop.

The charitable housing association hopes to complete on a sale of the site in Chairborough Road and Pettifer Way within the coming weeks following recent marketing of the site.

It said: “The new owner plans to refurbish the current buildings and then rent or sell the homes and has confirmed to us that they are not looking to sell the site on.”

Red Kite Community Housing, which is ‘tenant-led’, bought the entire social housing stock of the former Wycombe District Council for £65 million in 2011.

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This included the dilapidated Castlefield flats, which the provider had planned to replace with 194 new homes under a plan costing “well over £60 million”.

However, Red Kite’s board shelved the plans in September 2022, saying “it was not the right thing for us to do”.

The proposals, which would have required Red Kite to put in a “significant subsidy” were deemed “too expensive to continue with”.

Since then, the housing association has explored alternative options and said it was now “confident” that selling the flats was the “best solution”.

Trevor Morrow, group chief executive at Red Kite, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “The risk of costs escalating to redevelop Castlefield ourselves threatens all the services we provide to our tenants and is therefore not a gamble we were willing or able to take.

“We remain committed to providing as much affordable housing as possible, but we just can’t make Castlefield work as it requires such a large subsidy contribution, over and above our normal allowances.

“By selling the site the area will still be regenerated and new homes provided and the money that we receive from the sale will be invested in further homes in the Wycombe area.”

The former district council sparked controversy with the transfer of its social housing stock to Red Kite, which now manages more than 6,500 homes in Wycombe.

The council was accused of selling off its housing stock to Red Kite for less than its value.

However, Red Kite pointed to the millions of pounds of investment put into its Wycombe homes after tenants voted for their transfer to the council.

A Red Kite spokesperson told the LDRS: “The amount we paid was determined in accordance with a strict, independent valuation process set by government.

“This took into account that rents are social and not market rents, therefore the income through this rent tenure is significantly lower which impacts the value of the homes.

“The valuation also considered the hundreds of millions of pounds we committed to and have now invested in the homes.

“Red Kite is a charitable purpose organisation. Any surplus funds generated must be reinvested in delivering our charitable purpose. There are no shareholders who take money from Red Kite Group or any bonuses of any type that are paid.”