The press release issued by Homes England on 26 October 2023.
Homes England has awarded £5m grant from the Affordable Homes Programme to Somerset Council to support the North Taunton Woolaway Project.
The grant allocation is the first of its kind, following the new regeneration flexibilities to the Affordable Home Programme that we agreed with the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) earlier this year.
These flexibilities will enable funding to be used on replacement homes, alongside new affordable homes, as part of wider estate regeneration plans.
North Taunton was identified for regeneration as it is an area with some of the county’s highest rates of social deprivation and contains some of the most energy-inefficient homes in Somerset. The North Taunton Woolaway Project is a site comprising of non-traditional homes that were built using prefabricated reinforced concrete panels instead of traditional brick.
In total, 162 energy- inefficient Woolaway homes will be demolished and replaced with 229 council homes for affordable rent. Homes England will be funding 66 of these new build replacement homes, with the remaining homes funded by Somerset Council .
Jackie Jacob, Director – Affordable Housing Grants said:
“This funding is the first grant allocation following the introduction of our new flexibilities to support our partners plans for estate regeneration. The Agency’s new Strategic Plan objectives will support Somerset Council in its ambitions to regenerate North Taunton, an area with some of the highest social deprivation levels in the county.
”The North Taunton Woolaway Project is a signal of the funding open to affordable housing providers to accelerate the regeneration of social housing and help level up communities across the country.
“We encourage all providers and local authorities to come and talk to us as early as possible if they need support to develop their proposals – we’re here to help.”
The regeneration project will be rolled out across four phases, two of which will be part funded by the Affordable Homes Programme to deliver 100 homes, including a variety of bungalows, flats and houses. The agency’s goal is that that this funding will enable the council to accelerate the delivery of phases three and four.
This type of construction is time-limited due to structural issues, therefore, demolishing these existing homes and replacing them is much more beneficial and makes the 2050 zero carbon target much more achievable. All new homes will be built to low carbon standards and will achieve EPC B or above, much more efficient in comparison to the current C-F rating of the Woolaway properties.
At the core of this regeneration project is community engagement, the development being a result of public consultation, one-to-one meetings with local residents and a resident design group. This has enabled the new homes to be designed with residents’ needs in mind, contributing to successful placemaking. Current residents have been rehomed whilst works take place, with the option of returning to settle in their new community.
Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts, Lead Member for Communities, Housing and Culture said:
“I’m thrilled about the impact this grant will have on the North Taunton Woolaway Project. This funding represents a tangible commitment to improving the lives of our tenants, allowing us to build high quality, low energy homes with the blend of properties our community needs. It allows us to progress our North Taunton regeneration scheme which, through improved housing, address the social and health challenges parts of our community face as well as providing much needed new homes at affordable rent.
“I want to acknowledge the invaluable input of our local residents whose insights have played a pivotal role in shaping this project. Their input has been instrumental, and this project stands as a testament to the strength of community engagement.
“We extend our gratitude to Homes England for their commitment to the North Taunton Woolaway Project. Their £5 million grant is a game-changer for our community. We look forward to using this grant to create a thriving, sustainable future for North Taunton.”
A travel plan will be put in place to encourage residents to use sustainable forms of transport and will be achieved through the use of travel vouchers and cycle storage. Biodiversity improvement measures will also be put in place, including the implementation of bat boxes, bee bricks and swift boxes, to aid local wildlife.
Now allocation has been granted, the agency will be working with Somerset Council throughout the subsequent delivery phases. The first phase will complete in 2024 with phase two due for completion towards the end of 2025.