81 reasons to celebrate as affordable homes near completion in Smethwick

The last apartment block in a much-needed new development of 81 affordable Stonewater homes neared completion this week at Windmill Eye in Smethwick. Members of Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council and other guests joined housing provider Stonewater at the new apartments which have been named ‘Mason House’ by pupils from St Phillip’s Catholic Primary School in Messenger Road.

Stonewater, one of the UK’s largest social housing providers, has delivered the scheme in partnership with Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and housing developer Barratt Homes West Midlands.

The new housing community, which is helping to tackle the shortage of low-cost rental accommodation in the area, will provide 76 homes for rent and five two-bedroom family houses for shared ownership. The scheme is part of a £25 million pound regeneration project on four sites at Messenger Road, The Precinct, Unett Street and The Crofts, which will bring over 227 homes to the area. The sites previously housed a number of multi-storey blocks of Council-owned flats owned by Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council.

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council helped to kick-start the project by providing the land for development and obtaining funding support from the HCA before partnering with Stonewater.

The 76 Stonewater rental homes will provide a mix of eight two-bedroom flats, 12 two-bedroom bungalows, 21 two-bedroom houses, 23 three-bedroom houses and 12 larger four-bedroom family homes. All the rental homes will be allocated through the Council’s Choice Based Lettings scheme.

“We’re delighted to be supporting the Council in the provision of these urgently needed affordable homes which will create a flourishing new community and serve local families well for many years to come,” said Anne Dokov, Stonewater Board Member and Chair of West Operations Committee.

“There is a real shortage of high-quality, low-cost housing in the Borough and these new homes will go some way to addressing this problem and enable people who cannot afford the high cost of renting in the area, to stay in the community close to their work, family, friends and support groups. We look forward to providing more affordable homes across Sandwell in the future.”

The well-insulated and energy-efficient homes which have been sensitively designed using traditional construction methods, have fully-fitted kitchens and bathrooms and allocated parking. All 81 properties have a Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3 rating and feature low-energy heating systems to help keep residents’ fuel bills down and minimise carbon emissions.

Sandwell Council leader, Councillor Darren Cooper, said: "I was extremely impressed with the quality of these much-needed new homes which will be allocated to tenants nominated by the council. The creation of this development shows the council's continued commitment to investing in the regeneration of the Windmill Eye area and to working with our partners and in consultation with the local community. This is one of a number regeneration projects bringing new life to this part of Smethwick."

A further 146 properties are being built by Barratt Homes West Midlands division for open market sale. The new development is part of the Windmill Eye Neighbourhood Plan which was developed in consultation with the local community.

Wynne Thomas, Land Director at Barratt Homes West Midlands, said: “We are committed to building high quality developments that really make a difference to local communities in conjunction with local partners and the homes at Windmill Eye are a great example of that goal fulfilled.”

Dan Jackson, Area Manager for the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), said: “We’re pleased to see these new homes nearing completion. Providing these homes continues the HCA's investment in the successful Windmill Eye Neighbourhood, improving the housing choice and quality, and helping to deliver a sustainable, safe living environment.”

Stonewater, which owns and manages 3,331 homes across the West Midlands, is a major affordable housing provider in Sandwell.