Derbyshire authority unveils more new council homes helping Ukraine refugees
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The authority owns all eight two and three-bed homes on Fern Close, part of a larger new development off Whitelea Lane in Tansley, six of which will be available for social rents and two for shared ownership.
Civic chairman David Burton cut the ribbon on Wednesday, June 21, to officially open the properties at an event attended by council officers and district councillors Steve Flitter, Martin Burfoot, Sue Burfoot, David Hughes, Joanne Linthwaite and Peter Slack.
Councillor Flitter, the district leader and ward member for Tansley, said: “Adding these properties to the council's portfolio is very good news because we are providing homes for people who need them now and in the future.
“Credit goes to the council and its officers for taking this project forward from the decision in 2020 to re-start our council housing programme. While the 'affordable' description always sparks debate, we ensure our properties are available at lower than the market rent – and that's the important factor.”
Three of the homes on Fern Close are now occupied by Ukrainians, as the council received a £2million grant from the Government’s Local Authority Housing Fund to buy 18 properties specifically for those settled in the Dales after fleeing from the Russian invasion, with ten acquired so far.
By some measures, the Dales is thought to have taken in the highest number of Ukrainian refugees of any district in the UK, relative to its existing population size.
Among them are Max, Julia and their three daughters, who arrived in Derbyshire from Mariupol, a city’s whose population and infrastructure has been decimated by the conflict and is today under Russian occupation.
Max now works locally a self-employed builder, while eldest daughters Sofia and Anya attending schools nearby, and Julia cares for four-month-old Maria.
Max said: “The girls like it here and it's a very good area. We are safe. We don't worry about life here, so it's fine. The house is fantastic – we are very happy about this. The United Kingdom has been very helpful for Ukrainian families.”
He added: “We wake up and war. We didn't have much food or water and there was a lot of shooting. This went on for months. We were just sitting at home, looking for food and protecting our family.
“One day my daughter looked out of the window and saw Russian soldiers near our house. We didn't like that situation, so we left the city. Sometimes we slept in the car and sometimes in people’s homes in different countries. It’s been a long journey.”
Having disposed of its historic housing stock in 2002, three years ago councillors voted unanimously to begin buying and building properties again, as supply and affordability pressures were making it harder for young people and those on low incomes to make homes in the Dales.
From an initial target of 52 council homes the district has now acquired 24, the majority for affordable rent, including properties in Ashbourne, Darley Dale, Monyash and Over Haddon.
The authority originally had a bid accepted for the Tansley properties a year ago, but the developer working on the former site of Whitelea garden nursery subsequently chose another provider, which later pulled out.
Director of Housing Rob Cogings said: “The developer came back to us asking if we would reinstate our bid, essentially to save the scheme. Our housing team made specific recommendations when this went through planning about the floor area of the homes and these were taken up by the developer.
“It means the floor areas are a good size and give people with often the least choice more living space, so supporting children learning at home and promoting healthy lifestyles.”
He added: “This scheme represents a great investment for the district council. The eight new homes not only provide much needed affordable housing, they also help meet the needs both of local people and Ukrainian refugee families. The rent from the homes is also a new income stream, helping to support the council’s budget.
“Using grants provided by government, our in-house support service has been working with the tenants to provide fixtures and fittings that have helped people move into the homes. This has also benefited several local businesses.”
Like other parts of the council portfolio, the new homes will be managed by Nottingham Community Housing Association (NCHA).
Claudine Edwards, development and new business manager at NCHA, said: “We are delighted to have completed on these new homes for Derbyshire Dales District Council and to be working together to increase affordable homes in the district. It’s great to see these homes helping the local community and Ukrainian refugees.”
NCHA is currently marketing a two-bed home at the same Tansley Gardens development for 50 per cent shared ownership at an asking price of £107,500, then monthly rent and charges totalling £296.84.
For comparison, a three-bed property on Tansley Gardens is currently listed for private sale with estate agents Redbrik at £479,950, and a five-bed at £625,000.
Those eligible to take up the shared ownership deal must have a household income of less than £80,000 and priority will be given to people currently residing in the Derbyshire Dales.
Anyone interested in the opportunity can find full details at https://tinyurl.com/22cnxanf.