Office block transformation into affordable homes begins

Office block transformation into affordable homes begins

Work has started on a new Hightown Housing Association scheme which will create much-needed affordable new homes for rent on the site of an empty office block in Hemel Hempstead.

The attractive development in Swallowdale Lane will consist of 87 one-and-two bedroom flats across four blocks, and is handy for jobs, shops (including a nearby Aldi supermarket), green space and public transport.

Demolition work has just begun on Viking House, a block originally built for the Scandinavian multinational Atlas Copco, and later sold off and used as office accommodation for a variety of firms until it became empty and was bought by Hightown in 2014.

The outdated building will be replaced with contemporary architecture, with the vehicular entrance in Redbourn Road leading into a courtyard, and a children’s play area, surrounded by three four-storey blocks, rising to a nine-storey block creating a ‘landmark’ corner building.

The central landscaped space will create a focus for the development and a shared space for residents to enjoy. There will be additional pedestrian access from Swallowdale Lane, as well as 99 parking spaces, and a cycle and footpath linking to the strategic cycle path along the former railway line, known as ‘The Nickey’.

The new homes are among the 225 properties that Hemel Hempstead-based Hightown is building in the Dacorum Borough Council area in the next five years, at a cost of £45m. These include 130 homes for affordable and intermediate rent at Maylands Plaza, where work is now well underway.

Hightown’s intermediate rent properties offer assured shorthold tenancies that are around 20% cheaper than similar market properties, which can help people save for a mortgage deposit to get onto the property ladder.

Hightown development director George Edkins said: “We know there’s a real lack of affordable housing in Hemel Hempstead and this development will help people who cannot buy or rent their own home at current market rates.

“I’m delighted we’ve got this opportunity to transform a redundant site into an attractive housing scheme in a fantastic location. It will help rejuvenate the area as well as provide much-needed affordable homes for local people.”

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