Tackling the housing crisis and investing in jobs and training
In September 2015, Curo marked the completion of the 1000th home to be built during the Government’s four-year Affordable Homes Programme, with a ceremony at The Old Bakery in Radstock broadcast live by community radio station Somer Valley FM.
Curo, which manages nearly 13,000 properties across the West of England, were joined by celebrity baker Richard Bertinet, the Chairman of Bath & North East Somerset (B&NES) Council, and students and apprentices connected with the construction to welcome the family moving into this 1000th home.
This Curo development, part-funded by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and built by Markey Construction, has transformed The Old Bakery, a brownfield site that’s lain derelict for seven years, into a collection of 13 affordable homes.
The Old Bakery development is at Pritchard Mews, named in honour of Corporal Gordon Pritchard who was killed in 2006 while serving with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in Iraq and was the 100th British serviceman to die in Iraq.
House-building plays an important role in job creation, with conservative estimates suggesting every home built generates 1.5 jobs in construction and up to six jobs in the wider supply chain. Curo encourages suppliers to develop apprenticeship and training opportunities wherever possible. This construction project alone has provided seven carpentry and masonry apprenticeships and also worked closely with Bath College, formerly Norton Radstock College, hosting site visits for 126 construction students.
Curo commissioned apprentice baker Jake Mole (pictured on right with Richard Bertinet) to create a commemorative cake for the event. Jake is a resident of Curo’s Bath Foyer which supports young people at risk of becoming homeless, and is now pursuing his ambitions of a career as a baker with an apprenticeship at the Bertinet Bakery in Bath.
At the ceremony, Curo officially welcomed charity worker Claire to this 1000th home. Claire moved in to her new home with her husband John and their 15-year-old son Mack, having lost their previous home when their landlord opted to sell the property.
Claire said: “This is a really nice development, we watched it being built and we can’t believe we were lucky enough to be offered a house here. They are really well designed with plenty of storage and it already feels like home. Living here means stability and no more worries.”
Gerraint Oakley, Managing Director of Curo’s house building division, said: “We’re proud of our record as one of the region’s biggest house-builders and are very pleased to welcome Claire and her family into this, the 1000th home we’ve built since we entered the Government’s Affordable Homes Programme in 2011.
“Building new affordable homes is a priority for Curo and we’ve worked closely with local councils like Bath & North East Somerset and with the HCA to make new homes possible.
“Of these 1,000 homes, 488 were delivered directly with HCA investment, the remainder through Curo’s own investment. Curo’s investment in these homes totals £85m, with an additional £13m coming from public subsidy such as the HCA and local authorities.”
Mark Hopkinson, Lecturer in Bricklaying at Bath College, said: “We would like to thank both Curo and Markey Construction for providing so many of our students with the opportunity to visit a working site, as well as providing work experience for a number of these students.
“These opportunities provide the students with such great experience and the chance to develop their skills and put them into practice. We aim to increase the employability skills of all our students and these types of practical experience certainly help us to do so.”
Affordability remains a serious issue in Bath and North East Somerset, with average house prices 11.7 times average earnings. Rents and house prices are set to continue rising over the next five years. This is coupled with an historic under-supply of all housing, including affordable housing, which puts pressure on both rents and house prices.
The 13 homes at The Old Bakery include a mix of family houses and apartments and have all been let to people in housing need through Bath & North East Somerset’s Homesearch register.
The building, at the heart of Radstock has been sensitively designed, using local stone and employing highly skilled stone masons.