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SHDC are building their own houses but are they in the right place?

SA Updated
SHDC are building their own houses but are they in the right place?

South Hams District Council are “building their own affordable homes for local people” but many are questioning their location and suitability.

SHDC have announced that eight “affordable homes” will be built at St Ann’s Chapel, a small village on the way to Bigbury-on-Sea.

But many have pointed out that St Ann’s Chapel is hard to reach, and has almost no bus provision [we checked and found only one bus service in St Ann’s Chapel, and that was to Plymouth at 9.50am and one back, leaving Plymouth at 1.30pm but only on Fridays] and therefore would be unsuitable for anyone who doesn’t own, and can afford to run, a car.

Gerrie Messer, Kingsbridge Food Bank coordinator, said: “Whilst you are all questioning the affordability, ecological impact of these houses - just look at WHERE they are building them!

“There is NO local bus route serving these new houses - so straight off - they're building them in the most ridiculous spot and with no consideration for anyone who doesn't or isn't allowed to drive! It's discriminatory AT BEST!”

These houses are also not council houses, they will be “affordable” housing association houses marketed through Devon Home Choice. Housing associations on average charge 80% of market rent, whereas council houses tend to be rented at 50% of the local rate. [An important distinction when the average house rental price is now £1,100pcm.] 

A spokesperson for SHDC said: “For the first time in a generation, South Hams District Council is building its own affordable homes for local people. This is another step in the plan to tackle the housing crisis facing its residents in the South Hams.

“The severe shortage of affordable rented and shared ownership accommodation, particularly in coastal areas like St Ann’s Chapel, resulted in the council declaring a housing crisis.”

These houses are planned to be will be “high quality, energy efficient homes”, which will be “low cost to heat and run” with air source heat pumps and low water use fittings form part of the design, along with electric car charging points.

The spokesperson continued: “With the current energy crisis, this will be great news for future tenants to keep their bills low and manageable.”

The homes will be funded “by the sale of three open market houses at the development, Section 106 contributions, Affordable Housing Earmark Reserve funds, Homes England grant funding and Public Works Loan Board borrowing”.

Although many are saying that this may be little more than a sticking plaster on an enormous issue in the South Hams, some are still impressed with the ratio of affordable housing to open market housing in this development.

Anne-marie Coyle said: “Three market price houses and eight affordable. That’s a great ratio and should be applauded. Long term protection of these local assets is also important. A great model though!”

Cllr Judy Pearce, Leader of South Hams District Council, said: “We’re thrilled that for the first time in a generation, we can deliver our own affordable housing for local people. These eight environmentally friendly homes are being built to help our residents who are struggling to get much-needed homes. The homes are energy efficient and economical to run, which is of course important in terms of both running costs and the environment.

“This is just one of the avenues we are following in the direct action we promised to tackle the housing crisis. We know there is much still to do and we are committed to finding ways to help to reduce this issue for our residents.

“The success of these schemes is helped enormously by the great working partnerships with local community groups. By working together we can develop much needed homes which match local housing needs.”

When the properties are completed, they will be advertised through Devon Home Choice; if you are a local resident and interested in the properties, please register at: www.devonhomechoice.com

Classic Builders are the contractors employed to build the houses.

Giles Staines, Contracts Manager at Classic Builders, said: “As a company, we are extremely excited to be constructing the first new affordable housing in many years for South Hams District Council. We’re delighted to be working closely with the council and cannot wait to deliver these houses for the people of the South Hams.”

To mark the start of the building works, councillors attended the official turf cutting event in St Ann’s Chapel, near Bigbury, where the homes will be built.

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