New Stonewater scheme tackles shortage of affordable rental apartments in Taunton

Nine new low-cost rental apartments in Taunton are set to tackle the high cost of renting in the Borough where average rents swallow-up almost a third of local incomes, pushing many families into rent poverty.

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Developed by leading social housing provider Stonewater in partnership with Taunton Deane Borough Council and regional contractors RG Spiller, the new homes at 66-68 Priory Bridge Road, are a mix of three one- and six two-bedroom apartments, all for affordable rent. Priority for the new homes, which have been built on a former commercial brownfield site, will be offered to local people with a strong connection to the area.

Local shortage of one- and two-bedroom rental properties

The £1.7 million scheme, which has been funded by Stonewater with an additional £860,000 grant from Homes England (formerly the Homes and Communities Agency), responds to an urgent need in the community for low-cost one- and two-bedroom rental properties. There are currently more than 3,500 people in need of affordable accommodation on the Council’s housing register.

“We’re delighted to be opening these much-needed rental apartments which are part of our ambitious housebuilding programme in the Borough to help meet local demand for truly affordable rental housing,” says James Bradbury, Stonewater Deputy Director of Development. “This smart new development is a great example of how brownfield sites can be redeveloped into high quality affordable housing in prime town locations where people want and need to live – close to shops, services, local employment and their families and support networks.”
This week the National Housing Federation published its Home Truths 2017/18 report for the South West which reveals the average renter in Taunton Deane spends £655 monthly – almost a third (31%) of their salary – on rent.

The new Priory Bridge Road apartment scheme follows another recent Stonewater development of 26 affordable village homes in nearby Henlade, completed last year. Stonewater, currently owns and manages 2318 homes across Somerset.

Councillor John Williams, Leader of Taunton Deane Borough Council, says: “Affordable housing provision is hugely important to us as a council. The scheme at Priory Bridge Road has utilised a brownfield site and turned it into a sustainable site for new homes, all for affordable rent.

“It is in these challenging financial times that close partnership working is key to continuing to deliver much-needed affordable housing. We look forward to continuing successful delivery of affordable housing schemes with partners such as Stonewater.”

Award-winning willow sculpture

A focal point of the new development is a hand-woven willow sculpture of a woman releasing a bird into the wild by multi-award-winning Somerset artist Elaine Marks. The sculpture, which won Gold at the Taunton Flower Show last year, was purchased by Stonewater for residents to enjoy in the scheme’s communal garden.