Wickham residents benefit from new affordable homes

With the average house in Wickham commanding a £580,094[1] price tag, the local housing association Aster Group has handed over some much-needed affordable new homes to Wickham Community Land Trust (WCLT).

With ownership of the homes now officially transferred, WCLT will manage and maintain the homes which have been made available to local residents or those with a strong connection to the area.

Bought by WCLT, the five new homes comprise three two-bed terrace houses, one three-bed terrace and one one-bed maisonnette. They will provide affordable housing for local people and key workers in Wickham who cannot afford local high prices but do not qualify for social housing. Typically the homes will cost at least 20% less than the usual market rate to rent.

Community Land Trusts (CLTs) are a form of community-led housing, set up and run by people within the community to develop and manage homes. CLTs act as long-term stewards of the housing, ensuring they remain affordable for the long term.

WCLT was established in June 2008 with one of its key aims being to increase availability of affordable homes. Commenting on the handover, chair, Nicol Holladay said: “We’re delighted to have acquired five affordable homes from Aster for rent by local families unable to buy privately because of the high price of housing. We are truly grateful for the unfailing support and encouragement we have been given by the staff at Aster over the three long years it has taken through the pandemic to get to this point.

“Such is the demand for WCLT homes, the tenants chosen by the Trust to occupy the new homes all moved in the very next day after we took ownership. They all had significant need to escape from poor quality private rented accommodation and have strong connections to the area. We are thus bringing families back to be close together and provide mutual support across multiple generations. And, because CLTs are exempt from right to buy, these affordable homes will remain available to our community and not be lost to the private market.”

On completion of the sale Aster Group chief investment officer, Amanda Williams, said: “This is the first time we have transferred completed affordable homes to a standalone CLT. We are delighted that in doing so we have helped WCLT achieve their ambition of providing forever affordable homes in Wickham, under the control of, and for the community.

“The success of CLTs is they have the community at their heart. Created by local people, for local people, they shape and deliver homes specific to their needs. We’re proud to have worked alongside WCLT on this innovative community-led project.”

In addition to the five new homes transferred to WCLT, Aster will be transferring a further five to the CLT in the new year. Aster is also bringing a further 22 affordable homes to the local Wickham community. Of these, 13 will be for affordable rent and nine available to purchase through the shared ownership scheme.

In August 2012, WCLT acquired its first eight homes. Commenting on the difference living in an affordable home has made, one of these earlier tenants said: “Finding a decent and affordable house is difficult, especially around here! We went to the WCLT to see if they could help, and through them we were able to stay local to my family and live in a cracking house that we could actually afford. They supported us through everything, from moving into our first home as a young family to dealing with a crisis when a pipe burst! Brilliant landlords, and they are all local too, it really feels like a big WCLT family!”

For more information please go to aster.co.uk and for WCLT please go to Wickham CLT.

[1] https://www.rightmove.co.uk/house-prices/wickham.html

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