PARISH councillors led the celebrations at a turf-cutting ceremony at Woolseryto mark the start of 18 new homes for local people. Magna Housing Association is spearheading the £1.9 million scheme to build 12 houses in Woolsery and six homes in nearby Buck

PARISH councillors led the celebrations at a turf-cutting ceremony at Woolseryto mark the start of 18 new homes for local people.

Magna Housing Association is spearheading the £1.9 million scheme to build 12 houses in Woolsery and six homes in nearby Bucks Cross, which are due for completion at the end of March 2011.

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has invested more than £1,200,000 in the project, allocating £800,000 for the Woolsery scheme and around £400,000 for the Bucks Cross development.

Torridge District Council part-funded the scheme to the tune of £68,796, with the rest of the money coming from Magna.

Woolsery Parish Council chairman David Bonnefin said housing for local people was the top priority in the parish plan that residents helped to compile in 2005.

He added: "We hope this will go some way to meeting that need and especially to help youngsters afford to stay in the village. This is the most important thing - it's for the people of this parish and not for anyone outside.

"We've had a few setbacks over the years and if it wasn't for Roy Turner's dogged determination we wouldn't be here today."

Roy Turner, who is vice-chairman of the council, said: "This project to provide at least some affordable homes within the Parish has taken over five years to accomplish. The help of the Community Council of Devon has been of immense value in helping the parish council to navigate the maze which any community must pass through to achieve even modest success."

James Higdon, Magna's development manager in Devon, said: "We are delighted to be working with the local parish council, Torridge District Council and the contractors, Mi-space, on these important developments.

"The houses will consist of timber frame construction and will be designed to meet Lifetime Homes standards. All dwellings will also comply with the Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3. This means that tenants will benefit from reduced fuel bills and well designed internal layouts."

Six two-bedroom homes and six three-bedroom properties are being built at Woolsery, near the community hall. At Bucks Cross, just down the road from the village post office, the Exeter-based builders Mi-space are creating three two-bedroom homes and three three-bedroom properties.