Main contractor NB Clark has just completed a £550,000 development of affordable homes in Belford, North Northumberland, for social housing landlord Isos.
Now six families are being housed in an area where property is very expensive, both to buy and rent.
The scheme highlights the situation faced by many in rural Northumberland, who face having to leave their home area, due to exorbitant housing costs – eight or nine times the average wage, as the National Housing Federation is reporting in Rural Housing Week.
Isos has developed six new homes in Raynham Close, Belford – four of them two-bedroomed and the other two with three bedrooms.
Over the past two years Isos has spent £43m adding over 400 homes to its portfolio of 12,000 properties, spread throughout the region. Like those in Raynham Close, many are in rural areas where the housing shortage is often felt most acutely.
Vince Walsh, development and regeneration manager with Isos, said: “These are our first homes in the village of Belford and demonstrate our commitment to providing social housing in rural areas.
“The properties benefit from very high levels of insulation – something they will need in North Northumberland – and energy-efficient boilers to help keep household bills in check.”
The homes have been let to local families through the Homefinder choice based lettings system.
They are of built of traditional brick and tile construction and meet the Homes and Communities Agency, Secure by Design and Lifetime Homes standards. The latter means they can easily be adapted to meet the changing needs of residents as they get older.
Michael Farr, executive director of property and development with Isos, added: “The UK is simply not building enough homes for those in need, so it’s our responsibility to deliver as many new properties as possible to help tackle the shortage.
“In Rural Housing Week, it’s important to remember the vital role that developments like this one in Belford play in keeping villages alive.
“In recent years, Isos has delivered schemes like this one across Northumberland – in villages like Falstone, Lesbury, Beadnell and Chatton.
“They can be the difference between families being able to stay in their communities, and being obliged to move away to find a home they can afford.
“We are operating region wide in both rural and urban communities and would welcome approaches from anyone who has a site where we could build new homes in order to support a healthy pipeline of new projects and bolster our development programme.”
Figures collated by The Journal recently show how the population has risen in the region since 2005, but in many areas housebuilding is failing to keep up with the growing numbers of families.
In Newcastle, 9,830 people have moved during the last nine years, but just 2,300 homes have been created – more than 4.2 people for every new house.
Across the river in Gateshead the picture is only slightly better, with the population increasing by 10,082 and 2,730 new builds.
In North Tyneside too - with 3.58 people per new house - demand also seems to be outstripping supply.
However in South Tyneside and Sunderland the number of houses has increased while the number of people living locally has fallen. In South Tyneside that means while the population is down by 2,346 to 148,428, the number of houses has increased by 2,350.
And Sunderland has seen an even bigger gap, losing 5,967 people - more than 2.1% of its total - but gaining 3,710 homes.