26 affordable Stonewater homes completed in Taunton as local house prices rise to nine times average salary

Henlade Close, a new Stonewater development of 26 urgently-needed affordable homes for local people in Henlade village, near Taunton, was officially opened today.

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The completion of the new one-, two- and three-bedroom properties for low-cost rent and affordable shared-ownership, coincides with the publication this week (2 February) of Home Truths 2016/2017, the National Housing Federation’s (NHF) annual report on the state of England’s housing market. The report shows that, at £277,958, the average cost of a home in the Taunton area is almost nine times the average local salary, while typical private sector rents are almost a third (29%) of local workers’ take home pay.

“This latest Home Truths report highlights how frighteningly unaffordable housing has become for people on average local wages, many of whom are having to go without other necessities such as food and heat, to pay for a roof over their head,” says Jonathan Layzell, Stonewater’s Executive Director for Development. “These new Stonewater homes in Henlade Close highlight the vitally important role housing associations play in tackling the shortage of affordable housing in Taunton and across the South West.

“For every £1 of public money we receive for building new homes, Stonewater invests another £6 of its own money to create a range of different types of affordable housing across a wide mix of tenures. This includes homes for low-cost rent, enabling those who want to buy to save up money, as well as affordable shared ownership and good-quality housing for the poorest and most vulnerable members of the communities we serve.”

Created in partnership with Taunton Deane Borough Council and regional contractor R G Spiller, Stonewater’s new Henlade Close development offers a mix of 16 one-, two- and three-

bedroom energy-efficient homes for affordable rent, and 10 two- and three-bedroom shared-ownership homes which start at £79,000 for a 40 per cent share. All 26 properties, which have private gardens and allocated parking, have been let or sold to local people through Homefinder Somerset, a partnership of local authorities and housing associations working together to help local people find suitable housing.

Councillor Terry Beale, Executive Councillor for Housing Services at Taunton Deane Borough Council, says: “It is vital that we provide affordable housing for those who cannot stretch to the full market price for a home of their own and for those who need modern affordable homes to rent. The Council has made significant investments in housing and is unique in building its own stock of affordable properties. However, working in partnership with housing associations, such as Stonewater, is key to delivering dozens more new affordable homes and we are proud of what has been achieved.”

Stonewater financed the scheme with funding support from the Homes and Communities Agency.

“As one of Britain’s most expensive regions, the South West has experienced first-hand the brunt of the housing crisis, says Jenny Allen, External Affairs Manager for the National Housing Federation in the South West. “The spike in house prices has had a devastating impact on rural communities, especially with young families being priced out. This is having a knock-on effect on local amenities, including shops and schools, and is detrimental to everyone.

“As this year’s Home Truths report shows, the number of homes built is far below what the region needs to keep up with demand. Housing associations are a vital part of the solution to the housing crisis. The sector is buoyed by the additional funding and flexibility secured in the Autumn Statement and is ambitious about delivering even more houses.”

Stonewater has also delivered a mix of 58 homes for affordable rent and shared ownership at the new The Heathfields development in Monkton Heathfield near Taunton, where the housing provider has recently purchased a further 14 houses to provide more affordable accommodation in the local area.