A local housing association involved in a ground breaking study into the challenges affecting village life, is celebrating the completion of its £2.4m development at ‘Clayfields’ in Repton.
Trent & Dove Housing, Burton on Trent’s largest provider of affordable homes, recently participated in a landmark report, entitled ‘Valuing the Village’, which highlighted provision of affordable housing as one of the key areas needed to safeguard the future of Britain’s market towns and hamlets.
At a ceremony to mark the official opening of the development, former Chair of both The Rural Coalition and National Housing Federation, Lord Matthew Taylor of Goss Moor, said:
“Clayfields is proof that new developments can be well designed and fit beautifully in a rural village setting – whilst providing high quality affordable as well as open market homes to meet critical levels of local need.
“Here we see the success of the council, developer, housing association and local residents working in partnership to provide high quality, affordable homes of mixed tenure, which will help ensure the village remains a vibrant, sustainable community for many years to come. Building the ‘Big Society’ in the countryside requires partnership and imagination, and the benefits of this are here to see at Clayfields.”
Once the ancient capital of the kingdom of Mercia and now widely renowned for its public school; Repton is a much sought after address for homeowners. Sadly, demand has boosted house prices beyond the reach of many; forcing young people who have grown up in the area to seek homes elsewhere.
But Repton is not unique. This is a story being played out across market towns and villages across South Derbyshire and East Staffordshire. According to the National Housing Federation, (NHF) this dire lack of affordable homes in England’s rural areas is creating ‘pensioner pockets’; geographical areas where homes are largely inhabited by the over-65s.
Clayfields, off Milton Road, Repton is a small development of eight one-bedroom apartments, 12 two-bedroom houses, two three-bedroom houses and two fully adapted two-bedroom bungalows, built in partnership with South Derbyshire District Council to accommodate a unique local housing need.
Long before development began on site in June 2014, groundwork had already commenced with local residents to ensure that their response to building on what had once been green fields was favourable.
Mark Lewis, Chair of Trent & Dove Housing, explained:
“The key to this development’s success can largely be attributed to our commitment to involving local people in our development process. From the off, we worked with both the local parish council and South Derbyshire District Council to make sure we addressed local people’s concerns and listened to their views.
“We were overwhelmed by the positive response of the people of Repton to our proposal – they too recognise the need to ensure their village is sustainable by providing affordable homes for young families.
“The local community felt very strongly that these new homes should be for people with links to the area – and we agreed. As a result, our allocations policy stipulated that homes would only be given to people with family ties in the locality.
“Constructed by Maplevale and part-funded by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), all properties are built to Sustainable Level 4 requirements and include energy efficient boilers to minimise CO2 emissions and keep energy costs down.
“Quality of design and build was also paramount to the people of Repton. This is a beautiful South Derbyshire village with a lot of history. We believe our homes are sympathetic to the area’s existing architecture and now provide a really lovely streetscape.”
This sentiment was echoed by Cllr. Neil Atkin, Chairman of South Derbyshire District Council, also present at the opening ceremony:
“Providing local people with housing they can afford in their own communities is very important to South Derbyshire District Council. This is a well designed flagship scheme and one we hope to replicate elsewhere.”
Residents began moving into ‘Clayfields’ in the summer and all homes available for affordable rent are now occupied by people from The South Derbyshire Housing list. In addition, Trent & Dove Housing have also sold two homes via their shared ownership scheme.