The pressing need to provide affordable new homes to some of the 500 households in Haverhill currently on a waiting list has been the main driving factor behind Havebury Housing Partnership’s contentious development in Nayland Road.
The social housing provider has come under fire from some residents of Nayland Road for successfully appealing a decision by St Edmundsbury Council to allow it to knock down ten garages and build two, two-bedroom houses and two one-bedroom maisonettes in the street.
Now that the decision has been overturned, work is due to start on the site on November 16 and is expected to take about eight months.
Havebury’s chief executive, Karen Mayhew, said: “After a long, long discussion the board took the view that the reason we took the decision to look at this site in the first place still exists.
“We still have a long waiting list and we have an awful lot of garage sites and it makes sense to look at those to see if we could just do something like provide homes.
“Taking all that into consideration and taking into account the local sensitivities we thought it was best to go ahead.”
Havebury owns more garages in Haverhill than it does houses and 180 of them are empty.
Fewer than 30 per cent of their garages are let to Havebury tenants, 19 per cent are used for storage only and exactly one quarter of garage tenants are unhappy with their size.
With these facts in mind, Mrs Mayhew said: ““Most people would agree that it’s better to develop on brownfield sites and this is something the Government want us to do too.
“That means that in helping to provide much-needed new homes in Haverhill, we have to look at the sites we already own and see how we can make best use of them.
“Whilst the majority of our garage sites don’t lend themselves to development, a few do.
“This is what we’ve been looking at over the last couple of years, as we strongly believe new homes are more important than garages, especially if we can also re-provide the car parking space on site.”
Havebury’s head of development, Scott Bailey, pointed out that since June they have completed 47 new properties in Haverhill- projects that are helping it meet a target set by the Government of building more than 400 new affordable homes within its operational area by March 2018.
Tenants have already begun moving in to the 27-home development on Withersfield Road and in the 21 property scheme where the Snooker & Bowl club used to be in Chalkstone Way. Also on the way are six new homes on the site of a row of garages in Cambridge Way.
The work in Nayland Road will involve providing 17 car parking spaces while those who do use the existing garages will be offered alternative garage spaces in the local area.
Mrs Mayhew went on to say: “Ultimately our job is about providing homes. We don’t usually appeal decisions mostly we get them because we’ve gone through all the long processes to get them.
“In this particular case it seemed bewildering to us that it didn’t get planing permission when it very clearly sat within the planning framework, it’s a brownfield site and it’s garages for homes.
“It’s four small homes and it re-provides the parking. It just seemed from our point of view that we should appeal it.”