​Man U's Rio Ferdinand Foundation to Set Up in Houghton Regis

Rio Ferdinand teams with Central Bedfordshire Council in bid to leave lasting Legacy in Houghton Regis

Former England captain Rio Ferdinand has today announced Government-backed plans to partner Central Bedfordshire Council and regenerate one of the most deprived areas in Houghton Regis with a world-class sports academy and education and community facilities to transform the lives of young people.

Legacy – the former Manchester United defender's regeneration company, set up in 2015 with footballers Mark Noble (West Ham United) and Bobby Zamora (Brighton) – will partner Central Bedfordshire Council to revitalise Kingsland area of Houghton Regis.

Set in the 22-hectare Kingsland site, this is an innovative pilot scheme which Legacy aims to roll out across the UK. It will see Houghton Regis benefit from a leading sports academy – with potential as the base for the Rio Ferdinand Foundation – while the former England international will personally coach aspiring young footballers. With sport at its heart, this will help engage young people and encourage them to better their lives and career prospects by linking education, leisure, sports and skills with new home.

Rio Ferdinand, chairman of Legacy, 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."

Today at MIPIM 2016 – alongside Rio Ferdinand and Housing Minister Brandon Lewis MP – Central Bedfordshire Council Leader Cllr James Jamieson introduced a six-month period of exclusivity with Legacy to develop the plans for the Kingsland project.

He said: "At Central Bedfordshire we're all about transforming communities, making places the very best they can be and enhancing life chances for residents, especially the young, by giving them the skills to change their futures.

"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."  

Rio Ferdinand is enthusiastic about working in Houghton Regis, saying: "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."

Cllr James Jamieson said: "We want to truly make Central Bedfordshire a great place to live and work. Kingsland will help further regenerate Houghton Regis".

Central Bedfordshire and DCLG will be working alongside the Legacy team on the Kingsland Houghton Regis development, which includes Aviva Investors, agents Colliers International and planning consultants Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners.

To keep up-to-date on this project as it progresses, go to www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/kingsland. For inward investment enquiries with Central Bedfordshire Council, go to www.becentralbedfordshire.com

  • About Kingsland - Kingsland is a 22-hectare site in Houghton Regis. The site is approximately 50% unused green open space, already identified within the Houghton Regis North 1 (HRN1) development for redevelopment. The site includes various education establishments (University Technical College, Central Bedfordshire College, Houghton Regis Academy, Chiltern Special School, Academy of Central Bedfordshire, Priory Parkside, Kingfishers, the council's Adult Skills Service) and Houghton Regis Leisure Centre. 

  • Photo credit: A D Winter, floodlights on disused playing arena on part of Kingsland site.