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Homes in seaside village made affordable for local people

Westward Ho! Opening Feb 17

In partnership with Torridge District Council Westward have built the first affordable rent flats in a North Devon coastal village to help meet the overwhelming need of local people for housing.

The 16 one-and-two bedroom affordable rent flats at Lee Court are situated in the popular holiday spot of Westward Ho!

The contemporary and spacious development was built on the site of a former care home and comprises of six one-bedroom flats and ten two-bedroom flats. All are located on either the ground, first or second floor and benefit from having a lift, onsite parking and are situated a stone's throw away from local shops, restaurants and amenities.

The desirability of the area over the past 10 years has made Westward Ho! and surrounding villages, increasingly difficult for local people to afford a home. Currently there are 243 people on the housing register living in Northam parish and almost 300 applied for a home.

As a partnership, Westward Housing and Torridge District Council have worked closely together to try and alleviate the housing crisis in the area by providing the first ever social housing in Westward Ho!.

Jill Gregg, Executive Director - Development and Commercial, said:

"Westward was delighted to work with Torridge District Council to bring affordable homes to Westward Ho! These apartments were advertised on Devon Home Choice in October and we received 294 applications. All the properties have now been viewed and allocated to local people in accordance with the legal agreement attached to the development. The successful applicants have had an opportunity to visit their prospective homes and are delighted with the standard of accommodation."

New tenant Susan Arber said she was delighted to move in to a permanent home after living in a caravan in the village with her late partner for 20 years.

"I qualified as I have lived in Westward Ho! for a long time. My late partner had a brain aneurysm which left him with severe mobility issues, so we were recommended for social housing. Unfortunately, he died but they offered it to me as I met the criteria. I am excited as it is the start of a new era for me," she said.

Fellow tenant Allan and Janet Sanders said: "My wife and I are so grateful to both Westward Housing and Torridge District Council, bearing in mind the severe lack of affordable housing nationally, to be allocated a new beautiful home in our local area. Can we add a personal thanks to the people that made this happen."

Recent statistics show the overwhelming need for affordable housing in the area. According to the National Housing Federation's recent Home Truths campaign statistics, the average cost of buying a home in the Torridge area in 2016 was £223,102. The average private monthly rent in the area is £575, which would equate to 39% of the average monthly net incomes.

The Home Truths statistics also show that the mean average earnings in the Torridge area is £20,779. Therefore to be eligible for an 80% mortgage, the income required would be around £50,995 - a 145% pay rise to an average earner.

According to a new series of local insights into UK pay trends from Manpower Group, Manpower's analysis revealed "people living in Torridge and North Devon receive the South West's lowest salaries."

The homes have been built by Drew Construction for Westward in partnership with Torridge District Council to provide high quality, affordable accommodation for local people.

Councillor Cathrine Simmons, Lead Member for Housing, said: "There is never enough affordable housing to meet demand but it's great that, along with our partners in Westward Housing, we have been able to deliver a significant number of much needed flats on this site. We will certainly try to keep the momentum going and hopefully this first development of social housing in the resort will be the beginning of many more projects. Congratulations to everyone involved in the design and build."

Councillor Peter Le Maistre, Ward Member for Westward Ho! said: "This is another positive regeneration project being delivered in Westward Ho! and one that will benefit a large number of people. The £800K contribution by the Council continues our commitment to investing in the area and builds on the many other projects already delivered so far this year. Affordable housing with sea views has nice ring to it and I am sure that the new residents will enjoy moving into their new homes."

27 Feb 2017

Picture L-R TDC Councillor Le Maistre, Torridge District Councillor David Hurley, Westward board member Ro Day, tenant Susan Arber, Westward board member and TDC Councillor David Brenton, Westward board member Alan Brunt and TDC Councillor Cathrine Simmons.