People who want to help get affordable homes built in their community should find the process easier with the launch of a Community Housing Advice Hub covering the county.
Homes of Our Own aims to support communities with organising housing schemes, so that they can be involved in creating homes to meet the housing needs in their area.
Projects can involve self-build scheme or small groups of homes built by a developer – the latest in the pipeline is in Seend, where a planning application is due to be submitted for 11 houses at Park Farm in 2020, with the build expected to be in 2021.
Rebecca Lockwood Norris, Community Led Housing Project Manager, said:
“The hub is there to help community homes meet local housing need. We really believe in it and want to help others. We are happy to contact groups if they want to know more about it. Most importantly with this project, it is community led for the community.”
The hub is a partnership between Wiltshire Council, Community First, Wiltshire Community Land Trust (CLT) and Swindon Borough Council. CLT board member Stephen Hawking said:
“It’s all about getting the site, that’s the hard bit. It’s tailored to the needs of the people working there. It’s really good as we can use worn out garages or unused areas that would be left, which adds vitality.”
“The support for it is here so we can help but most of all they’re affordable, because that has been a scandal, and it offers a way for communities themselves to tackle the issue.”
A £150,000 to set up the hub came through in September from Homes for England.
Wiltshire Council Leader, Cllr Philip Whitehead, said:
“The East Wing site remains an area with so much potential and we want to develop it.
“I have met previously with the town council and met with Cllr Steve Oldrieve and discussed our plans in general for the site. I will share more information on this in due course. We were disappointed that previously discussed options didn’t pan out but the site provides real opportunities right in the heart of the town”.
Dr Nigel Knott, director of the CLT, said:
“It’s a great idea as partners have taken on board community housing benefits and it’s a major initiative for rural communities and how they can help.
“This way there is a sense of local ownership of housing and meetings designed to give people a voice. We’re able to keep the traditions with the heritage and history for future families. That’s what we’re hoping to do.”
Trevor Cherret, chairman of the CLT, said:
“I’m confident over the next few years everyone can take responsibility for their own housing. The plans are sustainable so have low energy and carbon and they remain affordable.”
Ian Crawley, of the Land Trust Network, said:
“There is an aspiration for every county to have a community hub. There is not a lack of funding. Where I live you can get a four-bed house with two garages for nearly £800,000, that is not housing choice.”
Reposted from Wiltshire Gazette and Herald (19th November 2019)