Nine new apartments for affordable rent in Taunton are set to tackle the high cost of renting in the borough, where average rents swallow-up almost a third of local incomes, pushing many families into rent poverty.
Developed by social housing provider Stonewater, in partnership with Taunton Deane Borough Council and regional contractors RG Spiller, the new homes at 66-68 Priory Bridge Road are a mix of three one- and six two-bedroom apartments, all for affordable rent. Priority for the new homes, which have been built on a former commercial brownfield site, will be offered to local people with a strong connection to the area.
The £1.7m scheme, funded by Stonewater with an additional £860,000 grant from Homes England (formerly the Homes and Communities Agency), responds to an urgent need in the community for low-cost one- and two-bedroom rental properties. There are currently more than 3,500 people in need of affordable accommodation on the Council’s housing register.
Pictured above from left to right are: Ian Mooney, Baker Ruff and Hannon Consultant; Cllr John Williams, Taunton Deane Borough Council; Cllr Hazel Prior-Sankey, Mayor of Taunton Deane Borough Council; James Bradbury, Stonewater Deputy Director of Development and Jo Humble, Taunton Deane Borough Council Housing Development and Enabling Manager.
“We’re delighted to be opening these much-needed rental apartments which are part of our ambitious housebuilding programme in the Borough to help meet local demand for truly affordable rental housing,” said James Bradbury, Stonewater Deputy Director of Development.
“This smart new development is a great example of how brownfield sites can be redeveloped into high quality affordable housing in prime town locations where people want and need to live — close to shops, services, local employment and their families and support networks.”
This week the National Housing Federation published its Home Truths 2017/18 report for the South-west which reveals the average renter in Taunton Deane spends £655 monthly — almost a third (31%) of their salary — on rent.
The new Priory Bridge Road apartment scheme follows another recent Stonewater development of 26 affordable village homes in nearby Henlade, completed last year. Stonewater, currently owns and manages 2318 homes across Somerset.
Councillor John Williams, Leader of Taunton Deane Borough Council, commented: “Affordable housing provision is hugely important to us as a council. The scheme at Priory Bridge Road has utilised a brownfield site and turned it into a sustainable site for new homes, all for affordable rent.
“It is in these challenging financial times that close partnership working is key to continuing to deliver much-needed affordable housing. We look forward to continuing successful delivery of affordable housing schemes with partners such as Stonewater.”
A focal point of the new development is a hand-woven willow sculpture of a woman releasing a bird into the wild by multi-award-winning Somerset artist Elaine Marks. The sculpture, which won Gold at the Taunton Flower Show last year, was purchased by Stonewater for residents to enjoy in the scheme’s communal garden.