During Rural Housing Week, Hastoe celebrated the completion of 8 new affordable homes together with development partners Dorset Council and C G Fry & Son Ltd in Dorset's historic market town of Bridport.
Hastoe and C G Fry both have a long-standing reputation for building high-quality homes, respecting not just local building style and traditions but environmental standards. The homes incorporate many features of Hastoe's New-Build Standard, ensuring the homes are highly energy-efficient and exceptionally well insulated in order to help reduce fuel bills for residents.
Martin Cox, Managing Director of Highlands End Holiday Park, previously owned the land on which the homes are built along with his sister and cousin. Having grown up on Rope Walks with a strong memory of the community that once lived there, Martin and his family were keen to support the opportunity to bring more local people back into the centre of the market town.
Speaking at the celebration, Martin Cox, said: “My sister, cousin and I are all very proud to be involved in this project. Our family lived just across the road from here until I was 14 years old. The family coal business was on this land and we were very much part of the community that existed in the centre of town.
“It’s extremely rewarding to see the old coal yard now being used for residential purposes. I’m sure that my father and uncle who worked for over 50 years in their coal business, and passed away a few years ago, are looking down and very pleased to see this development.
“It also highlights what can be done to help overcome the current shortage of social and affordable housing, if land is made available and given the appropriate consents.
“I hope the eight families who live in The Old Coal Yard will enjoy their new homes, the central location, and of course being part of the community in the town centre.”
Lead Member for Housing at Dorset Council, Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, was also at the event and said: “Housing delivery is a priority for Dorset Council. Our aim is that everyone in Dorset should have somewhere affordable to settle, live and call home.
“Bridport is one of the areas in Dorset with the highest demand for affordable homes. There were over 70 bids for each of the rented properties and over 400 households have Bridport listed as one of their preferred areas to live. In total there are over 4,800 households on the housing register.
“These new homes on Rope Walks make a valuable contribution towards that goal and, I know, will make an invaluable difference to those residents who live in them. It is fitting that we celebrate the completion of these homes in Bridport’s historic market town during Rural Housing Week.”
Philip Fry, Managing Director of C G Fry and Son Ltd, said: “CG Fry are a long-established local contractor and developer based just 7 miles from Bridport. We very much see it as our home time, so to be able to work with Martin Cox, his family and Hastoe to deliver much needed affordable housing on this brownfield site in the centre of Bridport was really rewarding.
“Bridport has some wonderful architecture, and we wanted these houses to feel like they belonged to the town and hopefully our design and construction team have achieved this. It is good to show that good quality design does not need to be complicated.
“It is important that all forms of new housing are built across the town to keep it such a vibrant place.”
Lindy Morgan, Chair of Hastoe’s Board, said: “Hastoe has a long track record of partnering with local authorities, local communities and local contractors to build beautiful homes that fit with the local environment and historic vernacular. I think Martin Cox has vouched for the fact these homes are representative of those that used to be there.”
“We are really pleased we have been able to provide residents with gardens – not an easy task in a town centre location – and ensured these homes are future proofed in terms of their environmental impact and cost to the occupier. By concentrating on the fabric of the building to reduce energy consumption, the homes are low in carbon emissions and energy cost.”
Mandy Knott, one of Hastoe’s new residents living in the development at The Old Coal Yard on Rope Walks, said: “They’re amazing. The houses are just amazing. Until recently, my whole family used to live in one room in an old flat. Now we have plenty of room and light and my grandchildren can play in the garden. We love our new home, thank you.”
Hastoe invested £1,444,000 into the development with an additional £40,000 from a Recycled Capital Grant Fund. £414,000 was provided by Homes England as was a grant fund of £120,000 from Dorset Council.
A Homes England spokesperson said: “Despite the current challenges affecting the country, accelerating housebuilding remains our number one priority. We are committed to supporting Hastoe Housing Association that has ambitions to build new homes, and our investment through an affordable housing grant allows us to do that. We’re delighted that this funding will enable Hastoe Housing Association to deliver much needed new homes in Bridport, Dorset.”
As part of the celebrations, Bridport Museum organised a short walking tour of the historic centre of Bridport and a rope-making demonstration which explained the town's long tradition of rope making and the layout of the Rope Walks.
Bridport is a town built around the rope and net industry. The town’s place in the landscape and the layout of its streets and long gardens lay testament to its rope making heritage. Bridport is world famous for its rope and net manufacturing and the town and surrounding area has been an important centre for the production of rope, twine, netting and sailcloth (originally made from flax and hemp) from the 13th Century and possibly earlier. The earliest documentary evidence of the industry is referenced to payment for a large quantity of cordage and sail cloth in 1211. In 1213, King John demanded that Bridport produce rope and sailcloth ‘night and day’ for the Navy.