Locals move into long-awaited affordable homes

Local residents celebrate after moving into their new affordable homes

BUT MANY STILL WAITING AS HOUSES
WERE 300 PER CENT OVER-SUBSCRIBED

NEW residents of Lyme Regis Community Land Trust’s first development are celebrating after moving into their new homes.

All 15 affordable units of the Garmans Field development, off Timber Hill, have been allocated to individuals and young families with a connection to Lyme Regis.

The completion of the one, two and three-bed houses – built by CG Fry & Son and managed by Yarlington Housing Group – is the culmination of years of work by the Community Land Trust (CLT), which was set up in 2012 after former Mayor of Lyme Regis, the late Barbara Austin MBE, called for “affordable rented houses for local people in perpetuity”.

The CLT was subsequently set up with board members Dennis Yell, Keith Jenkin, Brian Rattenbury and Rob McLaughlin, and Lorna Jenkin as treasurer and secretary.

They started searching for an appropriate site for their first development and eventually, with the help of Wessex CLT Project and Homes England – then known as the Homes and Communities Agency – they were able to secure land off Timber Hill and appoint architects and partner housing association Yarlington to push the project forward.

Work started on site in 2016, funded by Yarlington with grant support from Homes England and West Dorset District Council.

The new houses at Garmans Field off Timber Hill

A spokesperson for the CLT said: “This project was enabled because it was a CLT project. The land was affordable as it was outside the development boundary and, of course, the landowner was sympathetic to the CLT’s aims and willing to sell at a fraction of usual building land costs.

“It is in appreciation of his family’s generosity that the site has been named Garmans Field.”

The allocations process was undertaken by Yarlington Housing Group, which will now also manage the site.

All 15 units were offered at affordable rents, i.e. no more than 80 per cent of the average local rental, and not more than the Local Housing Allowance.

Vacancies were advertised on the Dorset Home Choice website and there was huge demand for the properties.

For 15 homes, about 125 initial applications were received, but when multiple applications and non-qualifying ones were discounted, the vacancies were still about 300 per cent oversubscribed, which CLT members have said demonstrates the need for more affordable developments in the town.

The allocations plan was devised by the CLT, with help from Wessex CLT Project and others, to ensure that the homes were allocated to people with a significant local connection, i.e. by residence, work or having close family already here.

Many of them were previously living in private rented accommodation, which was too expensive or did not offer enough space.

Seeking sites for further projects

A CLT spokesperson commented: “The aim is to protect community cohesion and the social viability of this small seaside town, where property prices are high and well paid employment scarce.

“The CLT is actively seeking suitable sites for further projects, but these are difficult to find in Lyme Regis. It believes that any opportunity should be investigated, and if anyone has any ideas, please contact any of the CLT board members, or message us through the website.”

Yarlington’s executive director of growth and development, Stephen Lodge, said: “Yarlington is delighted to announce the completion of Garman’s Field. With the price of rent continuously rising, especially in sought after areas like Lyme Regis, this 100 per cent affordable development will provide locals the opportunity to stay in their home town.

“We were also pleased to collaborate with the Lyme Regis CLT, West Dorset District Council and appoint local contractors CG Fry & Sons to produce high quality properties.”

Councillor Tim Yarker, housing portfolio holder for West Dorset District Council, added: “Timber Hill will make a difference to the lives of local people and help address significant local housing need. It is one of the largest CLTs to be completed so far in West Dorset and we are keen for more communities to take advantage of £2million council funding available for these schemes.

“This is a great example of local people getting together to address a problem and the Lyme Regis CLT should be congratulated for their initiative and hard work alongside Yarlington Housing Group and the Wessex CLT Project.”

CLTs are set up by local communities who develop and manage housing as well as other assets to ensure that they remain affordable and for local people.

CLTs also make sure that community is at the heart of the decision making process of development, helping decide for example where homes will be built and how the houses will be let and managed.

Garmans Field is Yarlington’s third development in partnership with a CLT.

For more information on Lyme Regis CLT, visit the website www.lrclt.btck.co.uk

Woodmead Halls
About Francesca Evans 778 Articles
Francesca grew up in Lyme Regis and has worked in community journalism in the area since 2011, having gained a First Class Honours degree in journalism and her NCTJ qualifications at Southampton Solent University.

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