Torridge housing project opens

TWO dozen local families have been able to move into new rented homes in Bideford thanks to the latest affordable housing initiative on Torridgeside - and the credit crunch! The families, nominated from the Torridge District Council housing waiting list,

TWO dozen local families have been able to move into new rented homes in Bideford thanks to the latest affordable housing initiative on Torridgeside - and the credit crunch!

The families, nominated from the Torridge District Council housing waiting list, have moved into homes at Restarick Close, East-the-Water.

These homes were initially built as a private development, but became available for purchase by Westcountry Housing and are being managed by its sister company, social landlord Tarka Housing.

Tarka, which was set up 18 months ago to take over Torridgeside's nearly 1,700 former council homes, now also has hopes of another 80 affordable homes in East-the-Water.


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Restarick Close was officially launched at a ceremony last week with the cutting of a ribbon by Torridge District Council chairman Cllr Margaret Brown and tenant Pam Burton.

The Homes and Communities Agency provided a �1.7 million grant towards the total �3.6 million cost of the development, with the Westcountry Housing bid being supported by the district council.

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Nigel Barnard, managing director of Tarka Housing, said its initial focus was to improve the former council homes transferred to it and up to the end of March it had already spent nearly �6.5 million on this continuing five-year programme.

But its sister company Westcountry Housing had a development programme and was able to put money into this site, which Tarka would now manage. There were plans for a further 80 units at Westward Reach, East-the-Water, over the next two to two-and-a-half years, he said.

"We are delighted to be able to take on these attractive, high quality new homes for the benefit of people in need of housing in our area. It is extremely important to us that we work in partnership to secure good quality homes where people want to live and to help to build strong and sustainable communities."

Torridge District Council's lead member for housing Cllr Philip Collins told the Gazette that affordable housing was one of the council's high priorities and had 100 per cent support across the council.

Advantage

In the financial year 2008/09, 101 units of affordable housing had been delivered in the district, some in rural areas, he said. This compared with 18, 36 and 72 in the previous years.

"There is no doubt that affordable housing has had some advantage from the slow down in the economy. But the overriding factors are the policies and procedures the council has put together in recent years, which are now coming to fruition," he said. This included a change in the percentage of affordable housing required on larger building sites to 40 per cent.

Current projections for the next two years were of 64 and 180 homes, said Mr Collins.

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