A new housing development in a picturesque north Northumberland village is making a much needed contribution to housing supply, says Two Castles Housing Association.
Two Castles is highlighting the ongoing lack of affordable rural housing as something that needs to be tackled through a partnership approach with local authorities, developers and the community.
The 27 new homes in the St Oswald’s Close development in Warkworth were allocated to people from the local area, but while residents are busy making themselves at home, there are many Northumberland families still on the waiting list.
According to Northumberland County Council’s Housing Strategy 2013-2018 report there are almost 9,000 people on the Northumberland housing allocations register, with around 4,200 assessed to be in housing need.
Two Castles, working in partnership with Esh Property Services, under the Hadrian Development Solutions Partnership, built the homes in Warkworth on land acquired from Northumberland County Council.
Importantly for families, the development is within walking distance of Warkworth Church of England First School. It includes nine two-bedroom and six three-bedroom properties, along with eight two-bedroom bungalows and four one-bedroom flats.
Two Castles worked closely with partners to ensure the design of the new homes was in keeping with the village. The homes themselves reflect existing property designs and are set at an angle from the road to allow for triangular shaped front gardens, a distinctive feature common in the village.
Part-funded by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) with an investment of £550,000 from the Affordable Homes Programme, the new homes on St Oswald’s Close, have been constructed to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3 Standards. Each new home includes a number of energy-saving features, such as efficient boilers and insulation to help keep residents’ bills affordable.
Rob Brittain, property services director at Two Castles Housing Association, said:
“There is a very real, unmet demand for affordable, rural housing in Northumberland. By working with partners to provide these homes we are helping to maintain and build a sustainable community for the future of Warkworth.
“Local people who might otherwise have been pushed out by rising prices and a lack of availability are now able to enjoy high-quality housing in the community they call home.
“The development is part of our wider plan to deliver 109 new homes in Northumberland by 2016. We completed 25 in Longframlington recently and have 25 on site in Hexham and 16 about to start in Stocksfield, but much more needs to be done to tackle the lack of affordable rural housing.”
Graham Morgan, Divisional Director, Esh Property Services, said:
“These homes are a good example of a scheme that meets local housing and planning needs and wider strategic housing issues.
“We’re very proud of the homes we’ve created; they’re a great testament to everyone who has been involved in their construction – from designers to decorators. We wish the new residents many happy times in their new homes.”
Councillor Allan Hepple, policy board member responsible for housing at Northumberland County Council, said:
“Recent figures have shown that the county is ahead of its target for new affordable homes – and this development is a key contributor to that success. We set a target of 1,000 new affordable homes by 2017, and by the end of this month we expect 641 to have been completed.
“Developing more affordable homes in Northumberland is a key priority for the council and we are doing this in a number of ways including building ourselves and working in partnership with housing associations such as Two Castles here at Warkworth.”
Bill Car, head of area at the HCA, said:
“We’re really pleased that our investment is making such as difference to Warkworth, in providing high-quality homes for local people.”