Derelict land transformed into family homes

A run-down area of Knowle has been transformed into a development of affordable family homes by Bath-based housing and support organisation Curo.

Among the first residents to have moved into the new houses is working mum, Louise Partridge (picture supplied), who was welcomed to her new home by Filwood Ward Councillor Cllr Chris Jackson.

Louise’s home is one of 13 two- and three-bedroom houses provided by Curo who funded the scheme with an additional £400,000 investment from the Homes and Communities Agency. Demand for these properties has been high, with all the homes now let at affordable rents through Bristol City Council’s Homesearch scheme.

Louise and her three children moved from Brislington to their three-bedroom house at the end of June. Louise said:

“I’ve just got the keys and really love the house. I’ve been trying to move for a long time, but it’s so hard to find anything affordable and decent. I’m about to start a new job as a post-woman with the Royal Mail, so this house has come along at just the right time.”

Development project manager Owen Thornton said:

“When we bought the site it was effectively wasteland. The area had become a magnet for anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping so this development has not only provided much-needed affordable homes for Knowle, it’s also vastly improved the look and feel of the local environment for people already living around Novers Park.”

Councillor Mark Bradshaw, Assistant Mayor with responsibility for New Homes and Regeneration, said:

“This is a very welcome addition to the city’s affordable housing stock at a time when housing is at a premium. I welcome this investment by Curo and the commitment shown to getting these 13 new homes built. The scheme also has the added bonus of transforming a site blighted by anti-social behaviour.

“Tackling the severe shortage of homes, particularly affordable ones, is a key priority and the city council will be looking very closely at the findings of the Homes Commission that was set up by the Mayor.”

As well as building the 13 homes Curo carried out renovation works to a number of garages that front onto the site to improve the appearance of the area.

The site is in the Knowle West Regeneration Framework area and was allocated for housing development in the Framework plan. These new homes contribute towards the Framework’s objective of building new homes in the area and widening the range of housing options available to local people.

The contractor was Halsall Construction Ltd and all homes were designed to the Lifetime Homes standard so they can be easily adapted to be more accessible as residents’ needs and circumstances change over time.

Councillor Chris Jackson said:

“This is a very welcome development, built to a very high standard, providing homes for life that they can be easily adapted to meet the changing needs of the residents.”

Lack of affordable homes for local families is a key issue in the West of England region. In Bristol, average house prices are 10 times average earnings, meaning that buyers need be earning £48,000 a year to buy an average home (Home Truths South West, National Housing Federation). Both rents and house prices are set to rise over the next five years. This is coupled with an historic under-supply of all housing, including affordable housing, which puts pressure on both rents and house prices.

Building new affordable homes has been a priority for Curo for a number of years. They have developed 1,300 new affordable homes in the past five years averaging over 250 each year.