Heavy metal stars mark opening of 60 new affordable homes in Reading

Three locally famous faces – immortalised in heavy metal by artist Steve Tomlinson – helped mark the opening of Stonewater’s new development of 60 affordable rental and shared ownership homes in Kenavon Drive in Reading. The faces are part of an art installation at the entrance of Kings Mead, a new 192-home development close to the town centre. The Stonewater scheme is the largest affordable housing scheme to be built in Reading in recent years.

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The heavy metal sculptures celebrate the lives of locally-born First World War hero Alexander Buller Turner VC of the First Royal Berkshire Regiment, who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for an act of bravery which saved hundreds of soldiers’ lives in France; and Oscar Wilde, the famous Irish playwright who spent two years in Reading jail in the 1890s, where he wrote his last work The Ballad of Reading Gaol. The third face is that of Robert Parker, a tireless community volunteer, welfare campaigner and a driving force behind Reading Voluntary Action and Reading Welfare Rights Unit, who died in 2013. A road in the new development has also been named after him.

Built on the site of the former gas works on the east side of Reading town centre, the new Stonewater homes were developed in partnership with national housing developer Bellway Homes and Reading Borough Council. The scheme, which sits within Bellway Homes’ larger Kings Mead development of 132 open market homes, offers a mix of 23 one- and two-bedroom apartments for affordable rent. This includes 13 homes for target rent which are two two-bedroom coach houses and 11 two- three- and four-bedroom houses. Target rent is set based on relative property values and relative local earnings. The rental homes are being allocated through Reading Borough Council’s Choice Based Lettings system.

Affordable shared ownership homes

Stonewater has created a further 24 affordable shared ownership properties which include 11 two-bedroom apartments, two two-bedroom coach houses and 11 two- and three-bedroom houses.

“We’re delighted to be providing these urgently needed affordable Stonewater homes in an area which has one of the highest property prices in the country,” says Jonathan Layzell, Stonewater’s Executive Director for Development. “Truly affordable rental and shared ownership homes like these in Kings Mead are vital to helping tackle the town’s growing shortage of affordable homes, particularly at a time when property prices are continuing to rise due to Reading soon becoming a Crossrail hub. We look forward to working with the Council to develop more new affordable housing in the area where it is most urgently needed.”

To keep costs low for new residents, the new homes are equipped with high levels of insulation and the apartments are connected to an energy-efficient communal heating plant.

Stonewater currently owns and manages around 560 homes in the Reading area where it is one of the largest affordable housing providers.

Councillor John Ennis, Lead Member for Housing at Reading Borough Council, says: “I am so pleased to see this site providing much-needed affordable housing after lying empty for so long. House prices in Reading are amongst the highest in the country outside of London and it can be a real struggle for people to find decent accommodation within their reach. Not only are these homes modern and efficient, they are located close to the town centre, shops and King’s Meadow is just a short walk away through the re-opened railway tunnel.”

Photo shows:

Stonewater celebrates 60 new affordable homes at Kenavon Drive in Reading. Left to right: Simon Browne, Technical Manager, Bellway Homes; Rachel Dutton, Employers Agent, Arcadis; Arthur Gott, Development Officer, Stonewater; Jonathan Layzell, Executive Director for Development, Stonewater; John Ennis, Councillor, Reading Council and Karen Vince, Sales Executive, Stonewater.