Former England captain Rio Ferdinand is teaming up with Central Bedfordshire Council to regenerate one of the most deprived areas in Houghton Regis.
Ferdinand runs a regeneration company called Legacy with West Ham captain Mark Noble and Brighton’s Bobby Zamora.
It is being backed by central Government and funding partner Aviva Investors and supported by McLaren Construction.
The area of Houghton Regis called Kingsland will be transformed with new housing alongside a world-class sports academy, education and community facilities.
The model will then be rolled-out across the UK to regenerate run-down areas “with sport at its heart to help engage young people and encourage them to better their lives and career prospects by linking education, leisure, sports and skills with new homes.”
Legacy chairman Ferdinand said: “We aim to help all young people develop to their full potential. My team-mates and I have seen at first hand the transformational effect that football can have on young lives.
“It transformed my life and I intend to use my platform to forge a legacy for young people everywhere.
“Legacy is building for people by responding to the needs of local communities and, by doing this across the UK, we will be building a brand and a long-term relationship with the people who live in our homes.”
Central Bedfordshire Council has confirmed a six-month period of exclusivity with Legacy to develop the plans for the Kingsland project.
Cllr James Jamieson said: “We are both proud and excited to be working with people who share these ambitions, colleagues from Central Government, our partners in Aviva and, of course, the inspiring and passionate advocate of social change, Rio Ferdinand.
“So it is with delight that we announce these plans for Kingsland as a statement of intent to regenerate 22 hectares of our land for this inspirational sport-led development, to be brought forward by Legacy.”
The Kingsland project has the full support of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and Housing Minister Brandon Lewis.
It will contain more than 1,000 new homes.
Lewis said: “The Houghton Regis project that Legacy are announcing with Central Bedfordshire Council will show the way to creating vibrant communities, backed by private sector investment, and using new and innovative approaches to building new homes to buy and rent.”
Ferdinand added: “Kingsland is a great example of the developments Legacy wants to roll out to key locations across the UK.
“We aim to start on site in early 2017 and to be delivering the first of our high-quality homes to a new generation of home-makers in Houghton Regis within a year of that date.
“Central Bedfordshire responded quickly to our request for sites, agreeing to work together to bring forward much-needed regeneration. The funding is in place via institutional and private equity, so we’re up and running.”