Affordable housing crisis in focus as two homes are opened
- Credit: Homes for Wells
Two families in need now have roofs over their heads in their home town thanks to a project by the volunteer group Homes for Wells.
But the group's chairman, David Fennell, said the circumstances of the Northfield Waye homes highlighted the desperate and growing need for affordable housing in Wells-next-the Sea amidst booming prices on the open property market.
Mr Fennell said that although the homes were only officially opened on Monday following their refurbishment, they had already been filled by local people facing an emergency - they had to move out of their previous, rented homes because the owners wanted to convert them to holiday lets.
The homes had previously been earmarked for key workers in Wells who were also in need of somewhere to live locally.
Mr Fennell said: "The crisis is gathering pace here and it's a real struggle. The explosion in prices has put housing above everybody's means. We're trying to keep Wells going as a community with people living here all year round but it's an incredibly difficult task to keep us up to the level where we were before.
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"We will continue to do what we can but we are swimming against the tide."
According to Land Registry data, the average house price in Wells is just under £482,000.
Homes for Wells launched a Help Locals stay Local campaign in September 2020 to raise £100,000 towards buying the two homes, which were built by the former Wells Urban Council. Donations included a £30,000 sum from the Holkham Charitable Foundation. The project also received almost £200,000 from a North Norfolk District Council grant.
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Among those at the opening were Pat Weston from NPM Builders - who worked on the project - Homes for Wells' patron Lady Leicester, Wells' mayor Mike Gates and two of the new tenants, Julie Phillips and Shaun Hall.
Donations to the project were made by City Plumbing Supplies of Fakenham, CDT Tiles, Howdens, MD Williamsons, Wells plumber Mike Craske and electrician James Betteridge.
Mr Weston said: "We were very pleased to be asked to work on this community project in the town. We had a few problems with getting supplies but the local companies we use on a daily basis stepped up and helped with donating items or reducing the costs to help Homes for Wells. It was like the TV programme DIY SOS, all working together to get the work completed on time."
Steve Blatch, NNDC's chief executive, said: “North Norfolk District Council are delighted to have assisted Homes for Wells with both loan and grant funding to help with their acquisition of these two affordable rented homes.
"This is an important step towards contributing to the council’s corporate plan objective of supporting projects that increase the supply of local homes for local needs.
"We will continue to support and work closely with Homes for Wells and other community-led housing organisations in this shared ambition.”