New Stonewater homes help bridge affordability gap in Weston

Hay Grove, a smart new £5 million Stonewater development of 35 affordable homes in Weston-super-Mare, has opened at a time when the cost of a typical home in North Somerset would require a 127 per cent pay-rise for local people on average incomes to afford.

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Stonewater, a leading social housing provider in the South West, has financed the mixed development of low-cost rental and shared ownership homes with additional contributions from North Somerset Council, and funding from Homes England. The development which is off Wellsea Grove, was developed in partnership with North Somerset Council and the regeneration arm of energy and services specialist ENGIE.

Truly affordable homes

The Hay Grove homes are a mix of 12 three-bed and three two-bed family houses, seven three-bed coach houses and two two- and three-bed apartments for rent. The shared ownership homes include eight two- and three-bed houses and three three-bed coach houses for low-cost shared ownership. These part-buy, part-rent homes start at £72,600 for a 40 per cent property share which can be increased over time until the property is owned outright.

This compares with the National Housing Federation’s Home Truths 2017/18 report for the South West which finds that at £271,631, the average North Somerset home is 10 times the average salary with an 80 per cent mortgage requiring an income of £62,087. The average cost of renting privately is £731 eating up a third (32%) of an average renter’s income.

Stonewater Executive Director of Development Jonathan Layzell says: “In just a decade, house prices in Weston have risen by 30 per cent making it almost impossible for young people and families on local salaries to afford to live in the town. We’re delighted to see our new Hay Grove homes going to local people and families who support local shops, businesses and services. These people are the lifeblood of the community who keep our towns and villages alive and vibrant. Hay Grove is part of Stonewater’s wider drive to provide many more new affordable homes for those in housing need across the county.”

Stonewater and ENGIE worked jointly with Weston College during the development’s construction to provide work experience for construction students and placements for four subcontractor apprentices in bricklaying, plumbing and carpentry.

Stonewater commissioned Somerset-based artist Elaine Marks to create a public artwork for the development creating a sense of ‘place’ for the new Hay Grove community and linking it with its past. Elaine’s inspiration has been a willow-weaved donkey symbolising the land’s former use as a field for donkeys. A children’s play area has also been built within the new development.

Councillor Elfan Ap Rees, North Somerset Council’s deputy leader whose portfolio includes housing, says: “We very much support Stonewater delivering new affordable homes in Weston. These new quality homes will make an important contribution to meeting the local need for affordable housing. We need to continue to work with Stonewater, identifying opportunities to deliver more, much-needed housing for local people.”

Edward Rees, Regional Director for ENGIE, said: “Hay Grove has been the perfect opportunity for us to work with our partners to create a sustainable new community whilst addressing the need for affordable housing in the area. We’re really proud of the high quality homes we’ve built on this development, and we hope the residents will live happily here for generations to come.”

Stonewater currently owns and operates 380 affordable homes across North Somerset.