Derelict church hall resurrected as affordable housing

Atotal of 12 new affordable rented homes have begun construction on the site of a derelict church hall in Tilehurst, Berkshire. Social housing provider Stonewater is developing the 12 new one- and two-bedroom affordable rent homes on 8,000 sq ft of surplus land which it acquired from St George’s multi-ethnic church.

Stonewater is financing the housing development, with Reading Borough Council providing an additional £752,065 grant for the project in order to deliver a housing scheme which is 100 per cent affordable rent. The new community hall has been financed by the Church.

The L-shaped, two-storey housing development will create a mix of four one-bedroom apartments, six two-bedroom apartments, and
two one-bedroom houses. The anticipated weekly rent levels for the new accommodation are likely to be set between £147 for a one- bedroom apartment, and £193 for a one-bedroom house. The development includes ample car and cycle parking provision and landscaped amenity space.

Lisa Wadhams, development manager at Stonewater, commented:

“We are delighted to be involved in this innovative development at St George’s which will not only bring much-needed affordable homes in a prime residential location, but new purpose-built community facilities for Tilehurst residents.

“With the average rent in the district now averaging £950 a month – which is more than a third (37 per cent) of the typical local wage – the need for affordable homes in the area is very real. This scheme is an excellent example of how we can work together with local authorities to identify under-used sites in the community which can be revitalised with brand new affordable housing. I can’t wait to see these new homes completed in January next year.”

Cllr John Ennis, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Housing, also gave comment:

“This is an excellent example of the Council working in partner- ship with a social housing provider to supply new affordable homes, with the use of Right to Buy receipts.

“There is a desperate shortage of affordable homes in Reading so this innovative scheme is a very welcome development which will also benefit local residents with the provision of a new community centre.”

The new homes will be allocated through Reading Borough Council’s Choice Based Lettings system which prioritises those that already have a connection to the local borough area.

Stonewater is working with Reading Borough Council, St George’s Church Parish Council and family-owned firm Francis Construction to deliver the scheme which has been designed by Reading-based architects The Harris Partnership.

The money from the sale is helping to fund St George’s new community centre, a single-storey church extension which will replace the old
church hall.