25-year Chilcompton building partnership celebrates 300 affordable homes during Rural Housing Week

The completion of 10 new affordable homes at Parsonage Lane in Chilcompton has marked the start of Rural Housing Week (3-7 July) and a successful 25-year construction partnership between social housing provider Stonewater and village-based builders Winsley White.

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Since 1991, the two organisations, working with Mendip District Council, have been responsible for the creation of more than 300 much-needed affordable new homes in the region including schemes in Chilcompton at Parsonage Lane, Merrick Fields, Golledge Close, Lewis Close and Raglan Close.

This latest £1.4 million housing development in Parsonage Lane, is the fourth and final phase of a 25-year house-building programme in the village which Stonewater (formerly Raglan Housing) and Winsley White have delivered with Mendip District Council creating 49 affordable shared ownership and rental homes for local people. The new road for the development has been aptly named Winsley Way by the Parish Council in recognition of the village’s award-winning, family-owned building business in Wells Road.

The new Stonewater homes in Winsley Way are a mix of six one-, two- and three-bedroom houses for affordable rent, and four two- and three-bedroom houses for low-cost shared ownership.

With the average house in the area costing £244,500, which is almost ten times the average local annual salary, and private rents over a third (34%) of monthly wages, Stonewater sees an urgent need for affordable homes in rural communities like Chilcompton where local people, particularly younger groups, are being forced out of the area because they can’t afford local housing.

“Winsley Way is a perfect example of how sensitively designed rural housing schemes can add real value to the community and fit in with the local building vernacular,” says Jonathan Layzell, Stonewater’s Executive Director for Development. “Affordable housing schemes, like this one, are vital to ensuring the long-term health and sustainability of our rural villages for future generations. But, these developments have to be the right type of housing, in the right location to stimulate growth, diversity and prosperity.

“Rural Housing Week highlights the important role housing associations like Stonewater are playing in keeping our rural communities alive by providing responsibly-built affordable housing for key people including shopkeepers, teachers and farm workers, as well as nurses and carers who will be increasingly needed to support an aging rural population. We look forward to continuing our great partnership with Winsley White and the council and building more affordable housing schemes like this one in other parts of the county where they are needed most.”

According to the National Housing Federation, more than one in five people in England live in rural areas which require 40,000 new homes annually, including 9,500 in the South West to meet the current housing shortage. The number of households in rural areas aged 65+ is projected to increase by nearly 60 per cent by 2039.

“Far too few homes are being built for local people across rural England and communities are disappearing as a result,” says David Orr, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation. “Housing associations like Stonewater are a key part of the solution to the rural housing crisis. Stonewater is a great example of how, with the right support, housing associations can build the homes local people and their rural communities so desperately need. I’m delighted that Rural Housing Week is shining a spotlight on the innovation of housing associations like Stonewater.”

Stonewater and Winsley White’s award-winning schemes include a 12-home housing community in nearby Meare which won a Local Authority Building Control Excellence Award for Best Social or Affordable Housing Development with a joint small development in Barton St David, a runner-up for the awards.

Sam Winsley, Winsley White Surveyor comments: “This latest scheme of 10 houses brings development to an end in Chilcompton on this site. The first phase being Winsley White’s very first project after inception in 1987. We are very proud of all of these houses that serve to provide affordable homes for people in the village where we live and work. The popularity of these new homes to potential residents shows how important they are to communities like ours. We hope to continue building this type of successful scheme with Stonewater going on into the future.”

Stonewater currently owns and manages 234 homes across the Mendip District.