25 new affordable homes help priced-out villagers stay in North Mundham

Villagers being priced out of the housing market in North Mundham, West Sussex, have reason to celebrate this week with the opening of Stoney Meadow, a development of 25 affordable Stonewater homes.

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Social housing provider Stonewater has created the scheme which offers a mix of low-cost rental and shared ownership homes to meet a chronic shortage of affordable housing in the village for local people. The sensitively-designed rural housing development has been financed by Stonewater with an additional £595,770 grant and recycled grant funding from Homes England. Currently, only eight per cent of rural housing across the country is affordable compared with 20 per cent in main urban centres1.

Stonewater has worked closely with Chichester District Council and local developers Hamlet Homes to deliver the new housing community which offers a mix of four one-bedroom apartments, three one- and two-bedroom bungalows and three two-bedroom houses – all for affordable rent. The low-cost shared ownership homes include a two-bedroom bungalow and 14 two- and three-bedroom houses.

Built to help house local people struggling to find homes that they can afford, the rental properties will be allocated through Chichester District Council’s Choice Based Lettings system which prioritises people who already have a local connection.

“At a time when the average person in the Chichester area would need a 265% pay rise to afford an average home2, more young people and families who have grown up in the village are finding themselves forced to move away to find affordable housing,” says Jonathan Layzell, Executive Director of Development at Stonewater. “Local people looking to rent are also being priced out, with the average rent eating up almost half (43%3) of their earnings. This has a devasting impact on the sustainability of village shops and local services which is evidenced by the closure of 31 post offices across the South East in the past five years, and 217 pub closures between 2013 and 2016 in London and the South East.

“These new affordable homes at Stoney Meadow are a great example of how housing associations can work together with developers and local authorities to tackle this problem, through building good-quality homes that local people can truly afford. These homes however, have to be the right type of housing, in the right location, to stimulate growth, diversity and long-term prosperity.”

The energy-efficient homes feature gas central heating and low-energy lighting to help residents save money on their energy bills.

Councillor Jane Kilby, Cabinet Member for Housing at Chichester District Council, says: “We want our young people and families to remain in the area where they grew up and the biggest barrier to this is a lack of affordable housing. We are very pleased to see these new affordable homes ready in North Mundham, and thanks to our Choice Based Lettings system it means we can prioritise people with an existing local connection. This means that they can stay closer to family, friends and work, and will ensure our communities remain sustainable and vibrant for the future.”

As part of Stonewater’s commitment to creating a ‘sense of place’ in its developments, it commissioned award-winning willow sculptor, Victoria Westaway, to create and install sculptures in the shape of round-headed rampion flowers – the county flower of Sussex. Known as the ‘pride of Sussex’, it grows mainly in grassland and meadows, linking the design to the Stoney Meadow development.

Luke Leleu, Hamlet Homes, Managing Director, says: “Hamlet Homes is a small local company employing local people who does their bit to be environmentally friendly with the majority of our office staff cycling to and from work on a daily basis. We are delighted to have constructed this scheme for Stonewater and for the benefit of local people. We are very proud of the site which is the culmination of many years’ work with the planning system and Chichester District Council. We are now very keen to move onto another scheme to benefit more local residents.”

Sources

1. Department for Communities and Local Government (2011) English housing survey, DCLG

2. National Housing Federation, Rural Housing Week 2018 resources

3. National Housing Federation, Home Truths 2017/18