Friday, 23 September 2011

The Allendale Community Housing Project

Peter Gavin, Chair of Four Housing Group, and I, welcome Sarah Massey and Matthew Robson and their son Matthew, the first residents of Allen Garden

Not-for-profit local organisation Allendale Community Housing (ACH) recently opened its completed Allen Garden development in the Northumberland village, which despeartely needs new housing.
The development was created in partnership with Durham-based housing association Four Housing Group, local developer Newman Developments and Northumberland County Council. The site will provide three high-quality, affordable homes available for social rent from this month.
Allen Garden was developed to help tackle the shortage of affordable housing in the area and received funding from Four Housing Group and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).
I was deeply impressed by the innovative approach to solving the on-going problem of affordable housing in the village, in particular
- the fact that over 10 local people were involved in the building work
- the developers Newman were outstanding, as was the effort of the HCA
- the attention to detail in the design was very good
Most importantly, Matthew and Sarah love the place
Allendale Community Housing is a community-owned company run to Community Land Trust principles, with a board of directors from the area who donate their time free of charge. They work to identify opportunities for the development of affordable housing and workspaces in Allendale and the surrounding area in partnership with other local organisations.
The key players should speak for their views on this groundbreaking project [excuse the pun]:
David Stewart OBE is Chair of Allendale Community Housing. He said, “We think this is a great example of the Big Society in action, a community group identifying and meeting a local need with the help of housing professionals and local authority experts. The homes are built to extremely high environmental standards making them cheaper to live in, the work force has been mainly local craftsmen, and the tenants will all be local people - a win, win, win.”

The Allen Garden development has taken over 12 months to complete with one three-bedroom house and two flats uniquely designed to complement the local landscape. All of the homes meet Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, a nationally recognized benchmark for environmental building. Four Housing Group has brokered a management agreement with ISOS Housing, who will oversee the letting of the homes.

Lynda Peacock, Four Housing Group director of development and regeneration, said, “Four Housing Group is proud to have been able to offer advisory and financial support to Allendale Community Housing to assist in building these homes. We are dedicated to supporting both rural and urban sustainable development across the North East. This development fully embodies that principle, with local Allendale people dedicating their own time and energies in making this happen and in having an excellent local builder and workforce who has really got behind the plans.”