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Affordable homes on old gas works

WITH house prices rising, making it increasingly harder for local people to get on the property ladder, a new development in Frome is helping to ensure those priced out of the market have the chance to find a place to call home.   

In 2014 the average annual income required for an 80% mortgage in Somerset was £50,024* yet in contrast the mean annual earnings were just £24,518**.

South-West based Housing Association, Yarlington Housing Group, has just celebrated the completion of 24 one-bedroom flats and 8 shared ownership homes in Frome. In addition to the opportunities these new homes provide for local people, the land on which the properties were built had a unique history which almost cemented its future as wasteland.

Yarlington’s chief executive, Gary Orr, recently toured the Riverside Walk development in Frome with MP David Warburton and discussed the triumphs of turning a highly contaminated, disused industrial site into a safe, clean modern housing development which has provided desperately needed homes in the area.

David Warburton MP said, ‘Visiting Yarlington’s new housing development at the old gas works in Welshmill was inspiring. Well-designed, well-built, affordable homes are exactly what Frome needs. There’s a huge demand for affordable homes and I’m delighted that Gary Orr and his team at Yarlington are meeting demand across Somerset with impressive projects such as this. Frome certainly needs more!’

The site, which had stood vacant since 2011, was originally occupied by Frome’s gas works factory, which manufactured town gas from the late 1930s. It was subsequently used for various manufacturing purposes, even being used to produce munitions casings throughout World War II which culminated in a large amount of ground pollution.

In addition, a live railway line and the River Frome partially bordered the site which restricted the size and type of homes which would be approved by planning officials, all of which had previously made the site an unattractive proposition for many developers.

Despite the potential difficulties, Yarlington made the decision to proceed with a planning application for affordable housing, honouring their pledge to build 1,000 new homes by 2020, and in April 2014, Yarlington received planning permission to build two blocks of flats, each containing 12 one bedroom flats, and 8 three bedroom family homes. Nobles Construction Limited, who specialise in unique regeneration projects, completed the project on behalf of Yarlington in July 2015.

Project manager for Nobles Construction, Matthew Mustoe said, “This development was not without its challenges, however through working in partnership with Yarlington, within 12 months we have successfully turned a disused industrial building situated on highly contaminated land into a mixed tenure housing development utilising largely local labour and material suppliers.”