Local residents joined civic leaders, architects, developers and Stafford’s largest provider of affordable homes in celebrating the successful completion of a major regeneration project.
Located on an important route into the town, the £6.7m Hesketh Village development by Stafford and Rural Homes (SARH) has helped transform the Rising Brook area of Stafford, providing a boost for local businesses as well as delivering 63 new homes to rent.
The Mayor and Mayoress of Stafford, Geoff and Cathy Collier cut a ribbon outside Victor Court, part of the successful Hesketh Village development. The Mayor and Mayoress are pictured above with, (from left to right) Chris Poulton, Executive Director of Operations at SARH; Andy Kerr from the nearby fire station; County Cllr Trish Rowlands; Ian Podmore Housing Worx Board Member; Eleanor McCallum of architects Pozzoni; Christine Seaton from the HCA; Roy James, Burton Manor Community Association; Cllr Jeremy Pert, Stafford Borough Council; Karen Armitage, SARH Chief Executive; Martyn Hopkins from Wates; Cllr Angela Loughran, Stafford Borough Council and SARH board member; Damian Armstong from the nearby fire station and Jeremy Lefroy MP.
During an official ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark its completion, Roy James, Chair of the Burton Manor Community Association, praised all those involved for consulting with local residents from the very start of the flagship project.
“This consultation continued right through the construction phase and we can now look to a future with a thriving community whilst residents of the new homes and neighbouring properties can feel proud of where they live.”
The new two- and three-bedroom apartments are contained within five attractively designed buildings, each named after RAF aircraft in a bid to reflect Stafford’s rich military heritage. They replace old blocks of flats that no longer met modern standards and were demolished to make way for the flagship development.
Karen Armitage, SARH Chief Executive, explained: “It is always harder to knock down and rebuild than just to build on an empty site. You can’t do this on your own and this special project demonstrates what can be achieved with strong partnerships.
“At the same time it has provided plenty of training opportunities for young people in the construction industry, work for local contractors whilst transforming the appearance of this important approach to the town centre.”
The regeneration was supported by £1.26m of funding from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and £315,000 of funding from Stafford Borough Council. Christine Seaton from the HCA said schemes such as Hesketh Village reflected how housing associations embraced partnership to fulfil the aim of putting homes within reach of everyone.
Christine also praised the housing association’s construction partner, Wates Residential for completing the project on time.
Jo Jamieson, Managing Director at Wates Residential, commented: “The completion of this landmark regeneration project within schedule is immensely satisfying for everyone at Wates. The aim of the project, and the wider SARH scheme, is to breathe new life into the area while creating high quality, efficient and comfortable homes.
“Through incorporating local suppliers and providing employment and training opportunities to young people in the area we hope to have also demonstrated the added value large scale construction projects can bring to communities.”
Part of a wider £40m project led by SARH to regenerate key areas in and around Stafford, and to build over 600 new homes by 2021, the construction of Hesketh Village saw the completion of the 500th new home to be built by the housing association over the past decade.
The scheme also highlighted its commitment to innovative design that blends in well with surrounding areas whilst meeting the highest environmental and building standards.
Eleanor McCallum of architects Pozzoni, said: “Rather than designing traditional housing blocks we came up with a low-rise development with well proportioned apartments that enjoy plenty of natural light. Outside we also tried to retain lots of existing trees which were complemented with additional landscaping.”
Due to the success of the scheme, all 25 one-bedroom and 38 two-bedroom apartments at Hesketh Village are now occupied. However, a number of other SARH developments are also nearing completion, offering homes to rent from as little as £90 per week, with no upfront fees.