Lavenham villagers come together to tackle affordable housing shortage in Suffolk

14 July 2021

Lavenham Community Land Trust (CLT) and rural housing specialist Hastoe have been celebrating the transformation of a local disused maintenance depot into 18 affordable homes in this Suffolk village.

James Cartlidge, MP for South Suffolk and local councillors joined representatives from Hastoe Housing Association and Lavenham Community Land Trust at marking the official opening of these affordable homes.

James Cartlidge MP (front & centre) cuts the ribbon at Peek Close, Lavenham with representatives from Hastoe, Lavenham CLT, Lavenham Parish Counil, Babergh & Mid Suffolk District Councils, Potter Raper, & DCH Construction

It was at the opening ceremony that the local MP spoke about the value of this project: 

Having broken ground on this project, I was honoured to open the Peek Close development. By delivering these homes through their neighbourhood plan, the development has buy-in from the local community, and provides homes for families with a connection to the village. They are sustainable homes, painted in the traditional colouring seen across South Suffolk’s villages and are specifically designed to provide a clear line of sight to Lavenham’s historic church tower. This is an inspiring project and an exemplar of what can be achieved by ambitious communities and through collaboration between all the key local stakeholders.”

James Cartlidge MP for South Suffolk

Across rural England soaring house prices are pushing many locals out of the places they’ve grown up in. Lavenham was once one of the wealthiest settlements in England and is still considered one of the UK’s most beautiful towns. However, according to Zoopla, house prices in Lavenham have risen by 43% in the past ten years, leaving many local people priced out of the market.

To combat the affordable housing shortage in their area, Lavenham CLT formed a partnership with Hastoe to develop the disused maintenance depot into a high-quality housing development that would enable local people, such as young families and key workers, to continue living in the area.

The partnership was formed with the sole purpose of providing new homes that are prioritised for people with a local connection to Lavenham and kept affordable forever.

As the first CLT development in Suffolk, these homes have created great deal of interest. However, it’s important to remember that these affordable houses are only possible thanks to the dedication of so many people who worked to bring this development to life. Building these houses has shown us how possible it is to create much needed affordable homes with community involvement. It’s taught us that in the future we all need to be ambitious in working to build houses local people need, want and most importantly can afford.”

Carroll Reeve Chair of the Lavenham CLT

The homes have been provided in a range of sizes and tenures to meet the needs of local people and families. 13 of the homes have been made available for affordable rent and five were for shared ownership. They include mix of 1-3 bedroom houses, and 3 bungalows.

Designed to fit in with the character of the village, the colours of the homes were inspired by Lavenham’s medieval houses. They’ve also been built to a high sustainability standard to help reduce fuel bills for residents, making them more affordable to live in and run than other homes.

Affordable homes at Peek Close in Lavenham, the colours of which were inspired by Lavenham’s medieval houses.

After moving into her new home, one resident at Peek Close said:

We cannot believe that we have been offered a home here. I cried – happy tears of course! We never dreamed that we would be so lucky, not only to live in Lavenham, but also to have a beautiful new home. Our family live in the village, and whenever we visited we never wanted to leave. Now we don't have to! Without these houses we would never have been able to afford to live in Lavenham."

The new homes were developed in collaboration with architects Parsons & Whittley, contractors Duncan, Cameron & Hutchinson, and employer’s agent Potter Raper Partnership. The partnership was also supported the Housing and Strategic Planning teams at Babergh & Mid-Suffolk District Councils and by the Rural Housing Enabler at Community Action Suffolk who was commissioned to do a Local Housing Need survey to establish the housing need in the village.

The CLT and Hastoe Housing Association have been shortlisted for Best Partnership (south) in the Inside Housing Development Awards. The results will be announced in November 2021.

As a rural housing provider we are committed to delivering truly affordable homes that provide a high level of energy efficiency and comfort level to our residents. This is reflected in our recently launched Hastoe New-Build Standard that we will apply to all of our community led developments going forward. Our aim is to meet the net zero carbon agenda through reduced energy demand that benefits our residents as well as the planet.”

Ulrike Maccariello Development Director at Hastoe
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