Stonewater brings new life to former Queensway car park with 24 affordable apartments
A ribbon-cutting ceremony has marked the official opening of 24 affordable rented apartments at social housing provider Stonewater’s Ben Jacobs Court development in Queensway, Yeovil.
Built on the site of a former car park which previously was home to the old Huish public swimming pool, Stonewater’s new homes are a mixture of eight one-bedroom and 16 two-bedroom apartments, all for affordable rent. The housing association has worked in partnership with South Somerset District Council and Ashcot Construction to deliver these new homes at a time when typical rent in the district is more than a third (34%) of average local earnings.
As part of its commitment to creating a ‘sense of place’ in its developments, Stonewater commissioned local artist Simon Ridley to design and create a wrought iron public art piece for Ben Jacobs Court. The art depicts the first ‘horseless carriage’ - the first UK motor car with an internal combustion engine - built by engineer Ben Jacobs and the Petter family in Yeovil in 1895. The development has been named after Ben Jacobs with members of his family, including his great-granddaughter, Diana Marlow, present to see the artwork unveiled at the official opening.
“We are really delighted to see these homes completed,” says Nick Harris, Stonewater’s Chief Executive. “This scheme is an excellent example of how brownfield sites can be brought back to life while also providing much-needed affordable housing for local people who are being priced out of the property market. We hope that these new homes at Ben Jacobs Court will help more local people find good quality homes in the town at a price they can truly afford.”
Ben Jacobs Court has been financed by Stonewater, with additional funding from Homes England (formerly the Homes and Communities Agency) and South Somerset District Council. Stonewater’s new homes will be allocated through the Council’s Choice Based Lettings system which prioritises those with a local connection.
Councillor Ric Pallister, Leader of South Somerset District Council and Portfolio Holder for Housing, says: “Stonewater has once again gone ‘above and beyond’ in delivering 24 outstanding homes for the people of South Somerset in the very heart of our major town where the need is greatest. The build quality and the finish are to a very high standard and I am delighted that these are not just another property but a home that people want to live in and are proud of.”
About Affordable Housing in South Somerset
- ‘Affordable rent’ is the rent regime applied to new homes where subsidy has been made available by the Government through Homes England. Rents are ‘up to 79%’ of the rate that would be charged for a property of the same size and quality if it were let on the private rented market.
- There are currently just over 2,000 households registered for rehousing in South Somerset. During 2016/17, 59 new affordable homes were created across the district, 44 of these were by Stonewater in Yeovil.
- Consistently around 20-25% of new affordable homes produced in South Somerset are in rural locations, i.e. in parishes with a population of 3,000 or less.
- Anybody in need of affordable housing can register at www.homefindersomerset.co.uk. This is a common register used by all five local housing authorities in Somerset and over 40 Housing Associations and other such landlords, including Stonewater.