Little Stocks Close, Kinlet, Shropshire

Six semi-detached houses and two detached bungalows, all provided for affordable rent in a small village.

Little Stocks CloseHousing Association
Shropshire Rural Housing Association

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Shropshire Council; Kinlet Parish Council; Homes & Communities Agency; Kinlet Primary School; major local landowning estate

Scheme outline
A rural housing scheme in a small village, this development features

  • Manufactured off-site within thirty miles, a highly insulated closed-panel timber frame system
  • With no mains gas in the village, the homes are heated by ground source heat pumps utilising shared ground arrays and attracting the non-domestic tariff
  • Served by its own bio-disc sewage treatment plant
  • Designed and landscaped to be sympathetic to the open countryside against which it is set and to the local vernacular, the homes achieve excellent space standards and are light and airy, making good use of passive solar gain
  • Value was added during the school summer holiday period of the development phase by improving the drainage of the (previously waterlogged) school playing fields, under which outfall from the development passes en route to discharging into a watercourse
  • Developed subject to a S106 agreement, initial and future allocations give priority to people with a strong local connection

Scheme costs of a little over £900,000 were met from SRHA borrowing, £80,000 community led development grant from Shropshire Council and £132,000 from the Homes & Communities Agency. 45% of expenditure was within Shropshire, 23% within the broader West Midlands and the remaining 32% within the UK.

Benefits of local expenditure and local employment add a further dimension to the significance of the scheme. As Shropshire Rural celebrated 30 years since the re-naming of the National Agricultural Committee HA, the scheme serves as a reminder of the rural roots of the association in providing affordable homes for rural workers and families.

Context: When let, no properties were available to rent locally: the nearest — some miles away — were at rents at least £65 above the monthly LHA.

Agents’ fees and deposits present further barriers to those on low income and the private rented sector is often of poorer quality than the homes provided by SRHA.

Only two properties for sale in the Parish had asking prices of less than £375,000: the cheapest, at £235,000, was well beyond the means of those on average Shropshire incomes.

Meeting local housing need: The scheme is subject to a S106 agreement; initial and future allocations giving priority to people with strong local connections. The six houses and two bungalows house local people ranging from the youngest of children to those now well into retirement.

The specification of level access showers for the bungalows has, according to tenants, transformed their quality of life; enabling safe, unassisted and dignified bathing. Generous gardens have also been welcomed and almost all tenants are involved in giving support to or receiving support from local family members.

Providing affordable warmth: This is of real benefit to those with relatively low income and is of benefit to the environment.

Good practice
Off-site manufacture: the homes are Shropshire Rural’s first venture into OSM. Produced to bespoke designs, in the West Midlands, by Accord Group’s ‘LoCal Homes’; the first time the LoCal Homes product has been used outside of the Accord Group.

Affordable warmth and sustainable energy: the closed-panel timber frame homes, highly insulated, allied to ground source heat pumps and utilising passive solar gain, deliver on SRHA’s commitment to providing affordable warmth. Shared ground arrays enable access to the RHI non- domestic tariff, helping to offset the higher capital costs.

‘Green’ drainage: the bio-disk sewage treatment plant and surface water drainage meet Environment Agency standards, enabling discharge into a local watercourse.

Community involvement: recognised by Shropshire Council as a community-led development, the approach enabled strong community relations and effective communications. Engagement with the primary school, which overlooks the development, enabled schoolchildren to make multiple site visits and to link the development to the national curriculum and the work of their ‘eco committee’ whilst the Parish Council and Shropshire Rural jointly funded improvements to the school’s facilities.

Homes & Communities Agency grant for Affordable Rent — £132,000
Shropshire Council Community-Led Development Grant — £80,000
Shropshire Rural borrowing — £782,000

“Brilliant! This is exactly what we should be doing.” David Orr, National Housing Federation

“It’s cosy. It feels like home when you come in…I love it” Tenant

“We still can’t believe it. We lived on an isolated farm: we’ve got neighbours…this is fabulous.” Tenant

“Shropshire Rural have delivered on their promise . . . this is fabulous.” John Bedford, Accord Group, timber frame supplier.