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Affordable homes at new neighbourhood will help keep village alive, says housing association boss

Affordable homes in a new neighbourhood built by developer Stonewood Partnerships have been described as a lifeline for the village and rural businesses.

The housebuilder has handed over ten two and three-bedroom homes at Somerbrook in Great Somerford to White Horse Housing Association.

Chief executive Steve Warran said such developments are vital, particularly for businesses that struggle to recruit staff.

“Out in the countryside, particularly rural Wiltshire, there are some very beautiful villages with some very expensive houses, which also lead to very expensive rents,” he said.

“The people who are born and bred in those villages work in the shops, the pubs and the post offices but often cannot afford to live there. So providing affordable homes keeps those people where they want to be within the local community and it helps to keep the village alive.”

Michelle Whittaker, the third generation of her family from Great Somerford, has moved into a two-bedroomed house at Somerbrook with daughters Daisy, 15, and Rosie, 11. She was anxious to be close to her mum, who lives alone in the village.

“It is lovely to be able to stay in the village and really lovely for my children. It feels like a safer environment here and people know us in case there are any issues,” she said.

Her daughters can travel by bus to nearby Malmesbury Secondary School and she is close to her administrator’s job at Beard Construction in Swindon.

She said: “We love the house, its layout and design and the finishes in the kitchen and bathroom. It’s open plan and the designers have made great use of the space.

“We have lovely views out across the fields and the farm next door and once all the leaves have fallen we should have a view out to the river. The estate is very friendly and all our neighbours are great. We’ve been invited to get-togethers with the neighbours and we are planning a street party for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year.”

Steve said: “Working with Stonewood we provide those people the lifeline and it not only helps them to remain in the village and close to their family support network, but if they continue to live and work there the village shop survives and the school survives.”

He said a feature of the homes is that they are indistinguishable from the other 28 commercial homes in the neighbourhood. “They are of the highest quality and we are delighted to work with builders of their size who believe in providing affordable housing and also in making it every bit as good as the rest of their homes,” he said.

“Stonewood have kept us fully informed of progress so we were able to update our tenants waiting to move in. They’ve done all the things we’ve asked and we’ve been really happy with what they’ve built for us. They have always had a reputation as a good builder that builds a fantastic home. And that’s what we want.”

Six of the homes have been let as a shared ownership scheme, with tenants owning 40 per cent. The share can be scaled up over time. The remaining four have been let at up to 60 per cent of the average commercial rent in the area.

Steve said: “When people apply for our homes, whether they be rented or shared, they have to show they have a local connection to that parish or village, which could mean they live there or they have lived there, or have parents there. That’s really important to us and to Stonewood as well.”

Stonewood Partnerships managing director Sam Smart said part of the legacy of the neighbourhood is creating affordable homes for people with a village connection. “It is important to us that we can provide homes for everyone and also really important that we create something that is an asset to the community.

“There is no greater asset than homes that allow people to stay close to their families, their children’s schools and their jobs.”
For more information about Stonewood developments go to stonewoodpartnerships.co.uk.

Pictured: Michelle Whittaker with daughters Daisy and Rosie outside their new home at Somerbrook in Great Somerford

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