30 July 2019

Read more about a three-year scheme which Believe Housing (formerly County Durham Housing Group) undertook in County Durham.

Project timeline

The scheme at West End Villas, Crook took nearly three-years to deliver, commencing in April 2016 and completing in January 2019.

The scheme provided a mix of 40 new affordable homes for rent in the small rural market town of Crook, County Durham.

Some of the key project milestones included:

  • project inception – April 2016
  • initial public consultation event – August 2016
  • planning permission granted by LA – March 2017
  • build contract awarded – October 2017
  • works start-on-site – October 2017
  • works complete – January 2019
  • first tenants move in to new homes – February 2019

The project

West End Villas is an excellent example of the long-term physical development and regeneration projects we can deliver with partners to provide a housing offer that positively supports a local community, and which helps enhance a place through physical regeneration.

Crook is a well-knit community in County Durham, with West End Villa’s an ex ‘council estate’ developed in the mid-1950’s predominantly providing two and three bed family housing that has been systematically sold-off through Right to Buy over the years (resulting in a ratio of around 60% owner-occupiers/private renters and 40% social housing renters).

The project sought to address a growing affordable housing need in the community by providing a mix of new affordable rent houses and wheelchair adaptable bungalows; providing a better housing mix for the towns ageing population and freeing-up existing affordable family homes for those in need.

The scheme is also a true example of partnership working to deliver physical place-based regeneration, utilising land transferred from the Local Authority (Durham County Council) to Believe Housing, contracted with Galliford Try for delivery, and supported by grant funding from Homes England.

The total cost of the scheme was £4.629m, of which £1.258m was grant funding from Homes England.

Challenges

Some of the challenges included:

• engaging the local community, addressing fears about the type of properties to be developed and for who,
• the redevelopment of brownfield land, necessitating significant remediation and infrastructure works, and
• delivering a 14-month construction project within an active community and across a series of infill land plots

Outcomes

The main outcomes of the West End Villa’s scheme include:

People - a greater sense of community and local pride, with several residents being able to access one of our new affordable homes. This included a gentleman who had been hospitalised for many months prior to completion of the new homes and for who we were able to make bespoke aids and adaptations to one of our accessible bungalows to enable him to be released from hospital.

Place - the provision of 40 further affordable homes for rent in the local area, of which 55% were wheelchair adaptable bungalows with wet rooms. This addressed a recognised housing need and provided a mix of properties which now positively support residents to stay in their local community, whether that be young families accessing an affordable home or older people downsizing to a bungalow.

Partners - by working with our partners (including the Local Authority, Homes England, building contractors and the wider local community) we have made a difference locally to Crook. Our partnership approach to physical regeneration has ensured the delivery of a housing offer that positively supports the changing demographic of a rural community for the long-term. The scheme was also awarded a Considerate Constructors Bronze Award in March 2019 for its approach to site management and resident engagement during construction.

Housing Associations - as an anchor within the local community of Crook, we believe we have made a positive impact to provide the homes people want and need. A scheme which provides 55% wheelchair adaptable bungalows is testimony to our commitment to do just that; something a traditional market housing developer wouldn’t even contemplate!

What can others learn from this example?

That, by working with local partners, a physical regeneration scheme can be delivered to ensure a place is more sustainable for the long-term and that it provides the right housing offer for a local community.

Further reading

For more information read this local feature on the project and this local feature on the completion of the project.

See more information on Believe Housing's website.

For more information email kate.abson@believehousing.co.uk

West End Villa’s