Construction started this week on an innovative development that will transform a derelict church hall and brownfield site within the grounds of St George’s multi-ethnic church in St George’s Road, Tilehurst, into an urgently-needed new community centre and 12 affordable rental homes for local people.
Leading 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 the church. 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.
Stonewater, which is financing the housing development, is one the largest social and affordable housing providers in the Reading area where it manages around 560 homes. Reading Borough Council has provided an additional £752,065 grant for the project in order to deliver a housing scheme which is 100% for affordable rent. The new community hall has been financed by the Church.
“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,” says Stonewater Development Manager Lisa Wadhams. “With the average rent in the district now averaging £950 a month – which is more than a third (37%) 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.”
Stonewater’s L-shaped, two-storey housing development will create a mix of four one-bedroom apartments, six two-bedroom apartments and two one-bedroom houses – all for affordable rent. 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.
Cllr John Ennis, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Housing, says:
“This is an excellent example of the Council working in partnership 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 Reverend Adam Carlill, St George’s Church, says:
“I am delighted that St George’s is able to contribute to this much-needed housing development as part of our mission to the communities of West Reading. We want to help foster quality human relationships through compassionate, courageous and contemplative living.”
The new Stonewater 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.