Homes are key to village life
AFFORDABLE: ’Now people who grew up here can stay’
A COUNCIL’S efforts to provide affordable homes to maintain viable and vibrant rural communities have been praised.
Ashford council’s work, in partnership with others, has been welcomed by Adrian Maunders, the chief executive of English Rural Housing Association (ERHA).
He was speaking at the opening of 11 homes in Smeeth, which he said showed what could be achieved when borough and parish councils work together.
Mr Maunders was among the guests at Fortescue Place, Calland, Smeeth, when Mrs May Fortescue opened the latest development.
Her late husband Gordon, a former Ashford Mayor and Smeeth parish council chairman, was a driving force behind the scheme.
Funded by the Homes and Communities Agency investment programme the properties are owned and managed by ERHA and are aimed at ensur- ing that those unable to afford market prices can still live in the village.
Three of the homes have already been sold on a shared ownership basis and the other eight are being made available at low rent.
The site was previously overgrown scrubland and a legal agreement with Ashford council means the homes are only available to people with a connection to the village.
Cllr Peter Wood, Ashford council cabinet member for housing, said: “Our partnership with ERHA has already provided developments to help people in eight parishes, with more planned in the future.”
Brabourne parish council chairman Peter Clayton said the ceremony marked the successful culmination of a more than 15-year struggle to find land and develop the project.
Stuart Austen, chairman of Smeeth parish council, added that the new affordable housing would allow people who had grown up in the area to remain living there.
Tom Wratten, one of the first residents of Fortescue Place, Smeeth, receives the keys to his new home from Mrs May Fortescue