Last week Dacorum Borough Council celebrated building their 300th new home at Old School Crescent, on the site of the former Martindale School in Hemel Hempstead.
In 2013, DBC published its Building for the Future programme and set the target to build 300 new homes by 2020. Given that it had not built any new council homes for over 30 years, this was an ambitious target and a real step change for the area.
As a stock-retaining local authority, it owns around 10,500 homes and takes pride in providing a strong landlord management service. But they had stopped building new council homes in the 1980s, instead working with local housing providers to develop new properties to meet housing needs.
However, they wanted to do more. They wanted to make a direct contribution to meet the demand and need for affordable homes within the borough by building new homes for social rent. The Localism Act 2011 introduced new powers for councils to keep their rental income and use it to fund investment in their housing stock. This enabled them to start building new homes.
Over the past seven years DBC has put an award-winning development team in place to deliver over 300 homes at 10 sites across the borough. They have built with their tenants in mind – following principles of good design and meeting local housing need. The properties range from one-bedroom flats to three-bedroom houses and provide a range of different housing – from a homeless hostel and temporary living accommodation to an environmentally friendly Passivhaus and an apartment block with a ground floor business centre.
They have also won awards for developments along the way, including Inside Housing’s Best Affordable Housing Development and Berkhamsted Citizens Association Annual Environment Award in 2019.
Now they are celebrating the official opening of School End Crescent and Old School House – the handover of our 300th home. Developed on the site of the former Martindale School, this is the largest development project of houses to date, providing 65 new homes. Built by contractor Bugler, there is a mix of 25 two and three-bed houses and 19 one and two-bed flats for social rent. The remaining 21 properties are the first built for market sale. The proceeds of the sale will fund the building of more new homes in the borough.
Last week Leader of the Council Cllr Andrew Williams visited the site with Hemel Hempstead MP Sir Mike Penning, Bugler Chief Executive Andy Bugler, Cllr Margaret Griffiths and Dacorum’s Chief Executive Claire Hamilton and Assistant Director of Housing Fiona Williamson (pictured).
Cllr Andrew Williams, said: “Dacorum is such a desirable place to live, with excellent transport links and several areas of outstanding natural beauty. As a result, homes here are in high demand and expensive, so when the opportunity came to give local people a way to continue to live here by building new council homes – we had to take it.
“The success of our Building for the Future programme is the result of the hard work and dedication of our housing and development team over the past five years, and great relationships with our building partners, consultants and contractors. When we advertise new properties to our housing waiting list they are always in high demand and the new tenants are pleased to tell us about the difference their new home has made to their lives.
“We are proud to have developed over 300 new council homes and to continue building new homes that will provide a legacy of housing for the next generation within our borough.”
Andy Bugler said: “As the main contractor for the fantastic Martindale school development, we are delighted to be part of Dacorum’s landmark achievement of completing 300 new homes within the borough. We look forward to working in partnership with them on many more schemes.”
Following the success of the Building for the Future programme, Dacorum Borough Council will be looking to deliver a further 350 more new homes in the next five years.