Wells MP James Heappey has voiced his support for shared ownership housing after visiting a new affordable development in the town.

The 52-home site at Bishops Green comprises 16 shared ownership homes and 36 properties for social rent. Shared ownership is a product that allows people to gradually build equity in their homes while typically paying a much smaller deposit than on houses available on the open market.

Mr Heappey was hosted by housing association Aster Group, which has led the project alongside David Wilson Homes. He welcomed the arrival of the shared ownership homes, highlighting the importance of offering options outside of traditional ownership to give local people the chance to get onto the housing ladder.  

The average price for a three-bed property in Wells is approximately £311,000 which is almost £15,000 more than the national average, according to the property website Zoopla.

Mr Heappey said: “We all know Somerset is a beautiful part of the UK to live in, but house prices are so high that the dream of home ownership is often out of reach for people who’ve grown up here. The ratio of house prices to earnings is greater than the national average, so I believe investment in shared ownership is part of the answer.

I very much welcome the opportunities for shared investment, as well as vital new homes for social rent, at Aster’s Bishops Green development.”

The development forms part of Aster’s £2bn investment plan to build almost 12,000 new homes over the next seven years. Construction at Bishops Green is being led by David Wilson Homes and work on the whole site is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

Jane Gallifent, development and sales director at Aster Group, said: “Shared ownership provides a secure, flexible alternative to people who are looking to get a foot on the housing ladder but simply don’t have the cash to pull together for a large deposit. We welcome the vocal support of James Heappey. His backing will help to further raise the awareness of the benefits of shared ownership.

“At the same time, we’re committed to providing high-quality, affordable social rent homes. This will open up opportunities for local people who have previously faced barriers to living in the community they grew up in.”

Aster recently commissioned a survey with YouGov to understand the perception of shared ownership schemes in the UK. Of 200 shared ownership customers surveyed, just 14% had received information about shared ownership from the government, with half relying on housing associations.