Providing housing for Village residents for the next 25 years
7 Dec 2016
Ensuring that truly affordable homes are available for Girton residents who may not qualify for those on offer from the council or a housing association is at the centre of a long-term strategy for Girton Town Charity.
Following on from opening the Almshouses at Centenary Court, GTC is seeking planning permission for three houses on the site of the WI Hall. The Trustees can see that these houses are clearly not enough to meet future demand and are now looking to expand GTC’s property portfolio to meet likely resident needs over the next 25 years.
The latest part of this is to look at redeveloping GTC’s current High Street site. Plans are at a very early stage to provide state-of-the-art Almshouse accommodation, which will be flexible to meet the changing needs of residents and enable them to enjoy independent living for as long as possible. This is a major project for GTC, requiring an investment of around £10 million.
The six bungalows on the site are now 50 years old and becoming increasingly outdated in terms of internal facilities and inefficient insulation, making them expensive to maintain. In addition, the accommodation is most appropriate for a single person which limits suitability.
Dr Robin Hiley, Chairman of GTC explains: “Our High Street Development is a significant and exciting way to expand the housing provision in the Village. We have already told our residents living at Michael’s Close of our intention to look at the site and we will, of course, be finding them alternative local accommodation when the time comes, which is likely to be in the region of two to three years away.
“This will add to the portfolio of homes that we are building up – it already includes Centenary Court and the proposed WI Hall site houses – which will futureproof our housing in the Village. We are not trying to get all our homes in one place, or for just one group of residents, but instead to provide a range of housing solutions to meet a variety of needs.
“With such a major development as the High Street, we need to have professional expertise from start to finish and have appointed Northmores to manage the whole project. The company, which is based in Cambridge, worked on the new Arthur Rank Hospice for the last five years up to its recent successful opening, which was on time and on budget.”
The development of the project will, by its nature, have a variety of sensitivities as the planning goes forward through the various stages.
Peter Northmore, Managing Director said: “We are delighted to be working with GTC on this important development and my fellow Director Jon Flack and our team are looking forward to seeing the project through from inception to completion, working to support the Trustees for the community of Girton.
“Both the GTC and Hospice schemes share some similarities: investigating needs, working with voluntary Trustees, developing a new site, running an inclusive Architectural Competition, appointing consultants and contractors and eventually managing the build. Above all, we are very clear that the whole process requires huge sensitivity both in terms of the residents, other stakeholders and the Village environment.
“Currently we have commissioned demand research and undertaken stakeholder consultations to establish the needs and from the results, GTC Trustees will be able to create a profile of likely future appointees, with established Girton connections.
“A quality build is top of the agenda and although the exact type of living accommodation has not yet been determined, it is likely to be in the region of 12-15 units which will be built in a distinctive but sympathetic style to blend with the Village surroundings. Professional landscaping will also play an important part and be carefully designed to ensure we have an attractive result of which we can all be proud.”
Dr Hiley concluded: “This is only the first step in a long process but we will keep residents up-to-date with developments as they occur. It is important to stress that whilst this represents a large investment from GTC, it will not constrain our ability to make contributions to the well-being of the Village in other areas.”