New affordable homes for rent will soon be taking shape on the site of the former Family Tree pub on Laburnum Drive in the Bersted area of Bognor Regis after work on the ground began this month (April 2013).
The empty pub building had been subject to an arson attack since its closure in November 2012, and its demolition was completed in February 2013. Arun District Council will determine from its housing register who will be the first to live in the properties after their completion, which is scheduled for summer 2014.
Social housing provider Guinness Hermitage, which operates across southern England, is working in partnership with Portsmouth-based PMC Construction & Development. They are soon to start buildingeight 3-bedroom houses, three 1-bedroom flats and three 2-bedroom flats with one parking space per unit. These will be let to local people at around 80% of the full commercial market rental value.
Both the housing association and its main construction contractor are signed up to the Arun Charter Plus scheme, which includes a commitment to provide local skill development through an apprenticeship scheme. PMC Construction has agreed to take on an apprentice for the development at Bersted. This will be a 3-year bricklaying apprenticeship offered to a student at Chichester College, where PMC have existing links. They are also going to offer a site specific labouring apprenticeship for the development too, a couple of timely outcomes following this month’s National Apprenticeship Week.
The land is owned by Arun District Council, which has granted Guinness Hermitage a 125-year lease. Councillor Ricky Bower, Arun District Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Development, said: “The council has been innovative in the way it has negotiated the arrangement and the outcomes for the local community. By negotiating on legal aspects relating to the land and its use, an additional funding of £170,000 has been raised which will be used to benefit residents across the district. We have also retained the freehold interest of the site in perpetuity to ensure that affordable housing continues to be available on the site in the long term.”
Cllr Bower added: “Through the Arun Charter Plus scheme we have been able to find long term benefits for young people.”
Damian Haley, Senior Development Manager for Guinness Hermitage, said, “We have worked hard, with Arun District Council, to create a development that makes optimum use of the land available, whilst maintaining an appearance which fits within its locality. These homes will have a high quality finish, using red brick and building materials and fittings of a very good standard. This development will provide much-needed affordable housing for the local area.”