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believe housing bringing much needed affordable homes to rural community

Published: Wednesday 1 June 2022

NEW homes being built in a rural North Pennines community will provide much needed affordable housing and help to support local services and businesses.

Work on believe housing’s 20 home scheme at Wolsingham, in Weardale, County Durham, is now underway by construction partner Imperator Developments.

Sitting on Durham Road, at the eastern edge of the picturesque village, the homes will be built of coursed sandstone with slate appearance roofs, so they are completely in keeping with the surrounding area.

County Durham based housing association believe housing will make seven two-bed houses and two bungalows available for affordable rent, through the Durham Key Options letting service.

And for people and families struggling to get a foot on the property ladder, 11 three-bed houses will be available under the Rent to Buy scheme which enables customers to pay a lower rate of rent so they can save to buy their home after five years.

Bill Fullen, Chief Executive of believe housing, said: “We are committed to providing the right homes, in the right places and creating thriving communities where people want to live.

“This development may only be for 20 homes, but we think it will have a hugely positive impact on the area.

“It will give more people who want to live and work in this fantastic rural community the opportunity to rent or buy a high-quality home here.

“The new residents will support local amenities, there will be economic benefits during construction and we’re also contributing financially towards open space, school places, biodiversity and footpath improvements.”

When a Durham County Council planning committee unanimously approved the scheme in January 2022, councillors said there was great demand for affordable housing and the scheme’s design was sympathetic to the area.

Durham Council Councillor John Shuttleworth, who represents Weardale and is Cabinet Member for Rural Communities and Highways, visited the site recently to mark the start of work.

Councillor Shuttleworth said: “It is always good to see affordable housing being developed in villages such as Wolsingham.

“It’s important that we support people to remain in our rural communities if we want them to continue to be vibrant places.

“These particular properties have been designed to fit in with the local setting in terms of their design and the materials used, which is crucial for developments like this.”

Jason Wylie, Managing Director of Imperator Developments, in Stanley, County Durham, said: “Imperator Developments are delighted to be starting work on this beautifully designed development of 20 affordable homes in Wolsingham, on behalf of believe housing.

“After a great deal of perseverance over the past couple of years, we can’t wait to get started. 

“With locally sourced sandstone walls and slate-style roofing, this will be a stunning development where every resident will be proud to live.

“We haven’t even started but are so excited for the first residents to move in and enjoy the space and quality that we will be providing.”

PICTURE CAPTION: Durham County Councillor John Shuttleworth, Managing Director of Imperator Developments Jason Wylie and Chief Executive of believe housing Bill Fullen at a new affordable housing site in Wolsingham, County Durham

Local lad Lewis helps get work started on new homes in Peterlee

Published: Thursday 5 May 2022

WORK to regenerate disused land on the edge of a County Durham town with almost 60 new affordable homes is underway.

Housing association believe housing is working with Partner Construction to deliver 59 high-quality homes in Peterlee, an area where it sees some of its greatest demand for new and affordable properties.

The Stephenson Mews development is located on a brownfield site on the edge of the North East Industrial Estate, which has been vacant for a number of years, and lies next to a new housing development.

It will see 23 two-bed, 30 three-bed and six four-bed homes constructed on Stephenson Road. Six of the new homes will be bungalows, to meet growing needs for wheelchair accessible homes in the area.

The homes will be available for Affordable Rent and Rent to Buy tenure to suit a wide range of people including those wanting to save to buy their own home.

Easington MP Grahame Morris joined Partner Construction Contracts Manager Graeme Walton, Site Manager Rob Bowman, Senior Engineer Elliot Martindale, and local lad Lewis King, a Development Assistant at believe housing, to mark the start of works on the site.

Lewis started his career with believe housing as an apprentice, after leaving Shotton Hall Academy, and secured a permanent role in late 2018.

The 21-year-old, from Peterlee, said: “Being from the town, I know just how needed these homes are and am really honoured to help mark the start of work on a site which will deliver good, affordable homes for people wanting to be part of this community.”

Mr Morris said: “I’m quite excited about this development as it addresses local need with a mix of affordable homes, and I’m a huge advocate of developing brownfield sites wherever possible in favour of building on greenbelt.

“This site will also have the benefit of existing bus routes, shops and services and being close to the A19.”

Kate Abson, Director of Development at believe housing, added: “These new homes build upon our commitment to provide high-quality affordable properties in towns and villages across County Durham, like Peterlee.

"We have firm plans to deliver more than 1,250 new homes by 2026, which is expected to support more than 3,800 jobs and 40 apprenticeships during construction."

Graeme Walton, Contracts Manager at Partner Construction, a subsidiary of United Living New Homes, said: "We are delighted to have started building at Stephenson Road. The groundbreaking ceremony marks an important milestone for the development, and I am delighted building work can now start in earnest.

“Working collaboratively with believe housing, we look forward to delivering high-quality, affordable new homes that will provide a welcome housing boost to the local community.”

believe housing invests in our planet with a tree for each employee on Earth Day 2022

Published: Thursday 21 April 2022

ALMOST 600 trees are being planted in north-east England, as part of a housing association’s environmental pledge.

This Earth Day (Friday, April 22, 2022), believe housing is paying for a native tree to be planted on behalf of each of its 568 employees.

The trees will contribute to the development of the North East Community Forest and will be part of 6000 hectares of new forest planted in the region over the next 30 years.

This is just the latest green initiative by County Durham-based believe housing, which launched its first ever environmental pledge on Earth Day 2021.

The pledge makes a series of commitments to work with customers and ensure that everything the organisation does is geared towards a low-carbon future.

The commitments include supporting community environmental initiatives and projects to improve neighbourhoods, moving to low-carbon vehicles, working with customers to reduce fuel poverty while cutting emissions, and using sustainable or recycled materials wherever possible.

Nik Turner, Executive Director Communities & Customer Services at believe housing, said: “Since making our environmental pledge 12 months ago, we’ve taken some big steps towards reducing our impact on the planet and are constantly looking to do more.

“This year we’re celebrating Earth Day by planting a native tree for each of our employees, to increase canopy cover and carbon capture in our region.

“This will help to improve the natural environment, enhance biodiversity and create happier and healthier places for us all to live, work in and visit.

“We’ve also worked with Seascapes to organise a beach clean on Blast Beach in Seaham to remove rubbish and stop it harming the seas, beach and local environment.”

In another environmental initiative, staff from believe housing recently installed planters called BioCubes in Stanhope, West Auckland and Bishop Auckland to provide habitats for insects and small mammals such as hedgehogs.

Club can plan the year ahead thanks to believe housing grant

Published: Tuesday 5 April 2022

A CLUB that runs weekly activities to boost the mental and physical wellbeing of older people, and prevent them from becoming isolated, is celebrating a cash windfall.

The SPA Tuesday Club, based at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Brandon, was able to plan an entire year of activities after securing more than £6,000 from believe housing.

The County Durham-based housing association awarded £6,250 to the club from its Large Revenue Grants scheme.

The club provides weekly activities for older people such as crafts, games and gentle exercise, as well as refreshments, and a monthly lunch.

Members have a range of needs and mobility difficulties, which means they need support to get out and about and are in danger of becoming isolated and depressed.

The club puts on transport and offers support so members can attend, giving them an opportunity to socialise, have a good natter and improve their wellbeing and self-esteem.

When Covid restrictions meant the group could not be held in-person, organisers kept in touch with members once a week.

Some had reported feeling low and isolated again but, by the start of the year, many felt ready to return and organisers were keen to get face-to-face interactions up and running.

Peter Hall, who helps organise the club, said volunteers were delighted with the grant.

He said: “It is quite expensive to run the club because we send transport to pick people up and bring them in.

“It has allowed us to develop an annual programme because we didn’t have to worry about where the fund was going to come from.”

Anne-Marie Parkin, Community Investment Co-ordinator at believe housing, said: “Funding this group is really important because it is a way of getting our customers involved in activities.

“The activities support physical and mental wellbeing and the amazing volunteers who organise them, along with transport and food, are helping people meet up with friends which is invaluable.”

Village shop to reopen after believe housing secures new long-term tenant for former Sainsbury's Local

Published: Monday 4 April 2022

PLANS to reopen a ‘lifeline’ village shop in County Durham have been welcomed.

A One Stop convenience store will open in the former Sainsbury’s Local in Grove Road, Brandon, after a long-term deal was agreed with the site’s owners, believe housing.

The County Durham-based housing association has agreed a 15-year lease of the unit to Wilson Retail Limited, a franchise of the One Stop retail company.

Wilson Retail Limited and One Stop plan to carry out a £150,000 upgrade of the unit over the summer, before opening the shop later in the year. 

Kate Abson, Director of Development at believe housing, said: “We’re delighted to be bringing a convenience store back to Brandon, as we know people were disappointed when Sainsbury’s Local moved out under a break option in their lease.

“This new 15-year lease will ensure the community has access to a good selection of products, at competitive prices, for the long-term.”

Daniel Wilson, director of Wilson Retail Ltd, said: “The Brandon store appealed to us straight away because we are already based in the north east.

“The village is a great size for a convenience store and it is perfectly located, with excelled parking facilities.

“We worked with believe housing and offered a vision of how we could reopen and modernise the location, as I know they were keen to get the best possible retailer they could for the area.  

“We believe we can provide an excellent convenience store that Brandon wants and needs.”

The news has been welcomed by Durham County Councillors for Brandon, Jonathan Elmer and Paul Taylor, who say residents have missed having a shop on their doorstep since Sainsbury’s Local closed in May 2021.

Councillor Jonathan Elmer said: “The difficulties caused by the loss of the Sainsbury’s Local last spring was something residents raised with me, time and again, on the doorstep.

“Having discussed this with believe housing about a year ago, I was reassured to hear that they were actively seeking a new tenant.

“I’m so pleased to hear that they have found one.”

Cllr Paul Taylor said: “To say I am delighted that we are to have a new convenience store on Grove Road would be an understatement. 

“Local residents were so very upset by loss of the shop, a shop at this location was a lifeline for the many older residents that live in this area of our community. 

“I want to express my sincere and heartfelt gratitude to believe housing, who I have had regular communication with over the months, for bringing a leading, and much-respected retailer to Brandon. 

“I extend a very warm welcome to One Stop from myself and our community.”