£75,000 Kirkby Stephen affordable homes boost

Date: Monday 8th April 2019

FUNDING totalling £75,750 has been secured to help deliver a scheme of mortgage-free homes in Kirkby Stephen.

A bid for the cash by Cumbrian-based eQuality Homes to deliver a co-operative housing development in the town has been approved by Homes England — the Government’s new community housing initiative which has been set up to help raise the building rate of new homes to an average of 300,000 per year by the mid-2020s.

The Kirkby Stephen scheme aims to help people who are struggling to get on the housing ladder. With the funding, eQuality Homes can move forward with plans to develop the scheme, and arrangements are already under way to tender for a partner to help deliver the project.

A key selling point will be that residents will become members of the co-operative which owns the houses, giving them a voice on how the scheme is run, and a vote on key matters relating to the co-operative.

Residents will be provided with a home for life which they can decorate and personalise, live in rent-free once their share of costs is paid and even leave to their children.

A key focus of the co-operative is to make housing more accessible to those who are unable to buy their own houses by building homes which offer low rents, a secure tenancy and rent-free living in the long-term.

Tom Woof, founding member of eQuality Homes Co-operative, said: “We are thrilled to have secured this vital funding from Homes England and are excited to start work on delivering affordable homes to people in Cumbria, starting with Kirkby Stephen.

“As part of the initial redevelopment phase of the project, we are seeking a partner to help deliver services and urge any interested parties to tender for the opportunity to work with us via our website.”

Craig Bradley, specialist for home ownership and supply at Homes England, added: “We’re committed to ensuring more affordable homes are built in the places where people want to live. Housing affordability is an issue for those living in Kirkby Stephen, so we’re pleased to be able to support the development of this innovative proposal through our community housing fund.”

A spokesman for the Government said: “The community-led approach to house building galvanises local support and is driven by the commitment and energy of the very individuals and communities that it will benefit.

“This local support means that this sector is able to deliver locally affordable new homes in places and on sites where commercial speculative house builders cannot.

“As a result of the close engagement and creativity of local people, the community-led model typically delivers high design quality, high standards of construction and energy efficiency, and uses progressive, innovative building techniques.

“It supports the smaller house building companies and helps sustain the local economy by providing homes that are affordable at local incomes. For all of these reasons, the Government wishes to see the community-led house building sector grow.”