102 reasons to celebrate as two major affordable housing schemes open in Southampton city centre

Leading affordable housing provider Stonewater - a key member of the Southampton Affordable Housing Partnership – and Southampton City Council celebrated the official opening this week (7 October) of two major affordable housing schemes in the city centre.

The new Stonewater developments at Orchard House, opposite Southampton Central Station, and Queensway in the Fruit and Vegetable Market district, provides a total of 102 new affordable homes for local people. Ninety of these are provided for affordable rent and 12 for shared ownership. The two schemes which have been built by regional contractor Orchard Homes and PMC Construction respectively, add to the delivery of 918 affordable homes across the city in the past three years, 422 of these in 2014/2015.

Stonewater, operating locally from their office at Cumberland Place, has financed both developments investing just over £10.4 million in the projects. Additional funding support has come from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) Affordable Housing Programme which provided over £1 million for the Queensway scheme and a further £2.6 million for the Orchard House redevelopment mainly through its Empty Homes Programme - the biggest grant allocation of its kind awarded to a housing association in the South of England. The Council fully supported Stonewater's funding bids for both of these schemes.

Orchard House office building conversion

Orchard House is a £7.4 million comprehensive redevelopment of an empty office building at the junction of Morris and Commercial Roads, which has been extended and converted into 50 smart one- and two-bedroom, energy-efficient apartments (26 one-bedroom and 24 two-bedroom) for affordable rent. The new accommodation is within the Council’s VIP Station Quarter project - identified within the City Centre Action Plan - and opposite the Mayflower Theatre. The project features a vibrant mural commissioned by Stonewater which reflects the building’s previous uses from the Second World War linking its past with Southampton’s present busy docks and distinct modern skyline. The piece was created by artist Esther Coombs and produced with Daniel Crow from Southampton-based ‘a space’ arts.

Queensway redevelopment

Stonewater’s new Queensway scheme is an attractive development immediately adjacent to another key site in the City Centre Action Plan, and is located on the site of the former nightclub New York, New York and McClusky’s bar which have been closed for several years. The £9.4 million scheme offers 40 affordable rental homes which are a mix of one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom properties split into 24 apartments, three roof-terraced mews houses with integrated garages, and 13 family-sized three- and four-storey townhouses with private gardens. There is also one commercial unit. The new homes have been named ‘Charlotte’s Wharf’ in recognition of Queensway’s former pre-World War 2 name which was Charlotte Street.

The affordable shared ownership element of the scheme provides 12 homes which include five one-bedroom, three two-bedroom and two three-bedroom apartments, and two two-bedroom mews houses. All the properties have been built to The Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 standard which measures the sustainability of new homes against categories such as CO2 emissions, materials and water. The homes’ energy-saving features include photo voltaic solar panels, heat recovery systems and high levels of insulation.

Stonewater commissioned local artist Chris Jenkins to create special water-jet cut aluminium gates which were produced with Daniel Crow from ‘a space’ arts. The gates which have been installed in the walkway between the flats and houses, are based on old maps showing Charlotte Street and the surrounding area as it was before World War 2.

Stonewater Executive Director Richard Stevenson commented: “We are delighted to be officially opening these two important affordable housing schemes which will breathe new life into the heart of Southampton, providing good quality housing for local people who need it most and boosting local city centre trade, commerce and employment. We have really enjoyed working with Southampton City Council and our construction partners to deliver these two much-needed schemes and we look forward to continuing this successful partnership and building more affordable homes for the Southampton community.”

All new residents in these properties were either nominated from the Housing Register managed by the Council or sourced through the 'Help to Buy' agency for the Southampton area.

Cllr Warwick Payne, Cabinet Member for Housing and Sustainability, Southampton City Council, said: “These schemes at Orchard House and Queensway are really good news and will help to make our city centre masterplan a reality. The Queensway scheme is part of a wider revamp of the Fruit and Vegetable Market district and the Orchard House project neatly compliments the Station Quarter rejuvenation.

“I’d like to thank Stonewater for bringing these exciting schemes forward, for their positive partnership with the council, and - in the case of Orchard House - not only providing affordable homes, but bringing an empty property back into use.”