HOUSING association ISOS has won a four-year £5.3m funding deal to provide 275 affordable homes around the region.
The North East company owns and manages more than 12,000 homes from Berwick to Stockton, and has announced projects in locations such as Wallsend, Washington and Hexham.
The deal has been agreed with the Homes and Communities Agency. North East HCA area manager Bill Carr said the agreement would “provide not only more houses throughout the North East region, but also homes that are more suited to modern living.”
The HCA agreed its first Affordable Homes Programme grant with Esh Group for 541 properties last month.
ISOS generated turnover of £46.2m in 2010/11 and employs more than 360 staff. It is working with the HCA on its Affordable Housing Programme which the Government’s housing and regeneration specialist hopes will provide up to 80,000 more affordable homes by 2015.
With other development schemes still to be finalised, ISOS has revealed it will be building 34 homes in a new phase of Stockton’s Mandale Park scheme, 32 in Wallsend town centre and 15 on the Covers estate. It will add another 19 homes to the Cleadon Park scheme in South Shields as part of phase five of development, and 16 bungalows in Newbiggin Hall in Newcastle. It will also build seven new houses in Hexham.
The firm is leading a development partnership, with organisations such as Durham Aged Mineworkers’ Homes, Impact Housing Association, Eden Housing Association and York Housing Association, which has won another £2.5m to develop 115 new homes. Michael Farr, assistant director of development and property at ISOS, said the company was “not building as many houses as we’d like” due to a significant reduction in grants from Government, but added it would be exploring every opportunity to build homes, especially for families.
He also echoed the sentiments of North East rural housing expert Professor Mark Shucksmith, who has said affordable housing is essential to the continuing health of rural areas.
Friday’s Journal featured a warning from the Newcastle University professor that the region’s countryside was becoming more socially exclusive as villagers were driven out of their communities due to surging house prices.
He said that often “even those who desperately need affordable housing find themselves conforming to the idea that the countryside has to be protected for its own sake, and that it is natural and fair that it is not built upon.”
Farr said: “It’s important to us that we meet housing need in some of the rural areas we’re involved with.
“Trying to develop some of the smaller rural schemes is more expensive than the larger urban ones, as we are able to build less units. The places can be quite remote so it can be difficult to get labour up there.
“However, there’s a desperate need for affordable housing in rural areas, and we share Professor Shucksmith’s view. There’s a danger some of these places end up becoming retirement villages, and that wouldn’t really secure a village’s long-term future.”