Work starts in West Meon on new affordable homes for local people

Press Release: 19/07/2011

L to R: Bob Warner Hyde Martlet Board Chair; Chris Buchan-Hepburn Development manager Hyde; Mark Dyer Director Drew Smith Ltd; George Hollingbery MP;

Work began on building the 10 new affordable homes in West Meon last week, as Local MP George Hollingbery cut the first sod to start development. The event coincides with the national Housing Federation’s Rural Housing Week (11-17 July 2011) which aims to highlight the need for affordable homes for local people in rural areas, and to show the positive social and economic impact upon villages of well designed rural housing.

Development in the countryside is built under special planning provisions, which ensure the housing provided will be 100% affordable housing (all rented) for people who have a strong local connection to West Meon, having lived, worked or cared for family there over the years.

The 10 homes will meet the Code for Sustainable Homes level 3 and also the Lifetime Homes standards, which means for example that the 1 bedroom accommodation has been designed with large bedrooms that could be split into 2 rooms if required. The mix of homes reflects the housing needs of West Meon parishioners who are on Winchester City Council Housing Register.

This development has come forward through the work of HARAH and has been developed through partnership working over a number of years between Winchester City Council, West Meon Parish Council, the Rural Housing Enablers and HARAH’s development partner, Hyde Housing Association. The site is within the new South Downs National Park. It will be one of the first HARAH schemes built in the new National Park.

West Meon Parish Council have strongly supported the scheme and have been involved from the start, helping to engage and consult with the local community on the choice of site as well as the design. The scheme supports the findings of the West Meon Parish Plan, published in 2007, which identified a requirement for future affordable housing to reflect local need.

The development has been carefully designed to integrate with its location in the South Downs National Park and to reflect the character and qualities that exist in the village. The materials and detailing will produce high quality buildings whilst the energy and water efficiency features should mean they are economic to run for the residents.

Cllr Tony Coates, Portfolio Holder for Housing said, “West Meon is an active community that has ensured the village remains vibrant by supporting a wide range of amenities which includes sports facilities, a primary school, church, pub, café and the community shop which was saved from closure by the community. The affordable housing will not only enable local people to stay in the village but will also help to support these vital village amenities.”

Hyde Housing Association will receive grant funding from the Homes and Communities Agency and will manage the homes in perpetuity for local people. “We are pleased to be making a start on building homes for local people in West Meon after over seven years searching for a suitable site and design. This is a sensational site in the heart of the Meon Valley and the South Downs National Park and we have worked closely with the Parish Council to develop the design and have carefully chosen the materials to reflect the sensitivity of this site,” says Bob Warner, Chair of HydeMartlet.

The event was attended by officers and Councillors from Winchester City Council, Parish Councillors, and officers from the SDNP, Hyde Housing Association, the Rural Housing Enabler and Drew Smith, as well as the Plunkett Foundation which partly funded the local community shop.

The homes were designed by Harrington Design Architects and will be built by the Drew Smith Group.