October saw the Gorse Ride regeneration project take a massive step forward as the Mayor of Wokingham Borough, Cllr Malcolm Richards, visited the Arnett Avenue site to top out the last section of roof.
Arnett Avenue, the first phase of the ambitious multimillion pound regeneration project, will see 46 new homes delivered on the site to help meet the local need for top quality affordable housing in the Finchampstead area.
The Borough Mayor was shown round the site by Harry Smith from council contractors R.J. Leighfield and Sons Ltd and was accompanied on his visit by Cllr Simon Weeks, borough ward councillor for Finchampstead South and chair of the local Parish Council. They were also joined by Steve Bowers who, in addition to being chair of the community steering group, is also a Gorse Ride resident and is one of the local households likely to move into the new development when it completes next spring.
“It was wonderful to be able to mark this major milestone event by helping place the last tile on the Arnett Avenue roofs and officially topping it out.” said Mayor of Wokingham Borough, Cllr Malcolm Richards. “It was my first visit to the Arnett Avenue site and I was incredibly impressed with how great it looked and the quality of the work that’s been done by our contractors.”
“Talking with Steve Bowers about his involvement with steering group and the local community, as well as his excitement about moving into a new home, really helped me understand how important this is for Gorse Ride and what a difference the regeneration will make for local residents.”
“Living-architects, who designed the scheme, have done an amazing job on the designs and the new homes look fantastic both inside and out. The original Gorse Ride development was never meant to last for so many years so being able to replace the old properties with these amazing quality new homes is a fantastic opportunity that I’m proud the council can deliver.”
The Arnett Avenue scheme is being delivered through the council’s housing company Loddon Homes and comprises of 10 new three bedroom houses, three of which are available for private ownership and seven for social rent, and 36 one and two bedroom apartments, 16 of which will be for social rent. The remaining apartments will be available for shared ownership, which allows people to part own and part rent their home with the opportunity to increase their share over the years if they wish.
The shared ownership scheme is particularly popular with local young people looking to take their first steps onto the property ladder and with growing families who cannot afford to but the larger homes they need outright.
The development will also see extensive new landscaping to complement the large number of mature trees which were retained, as well as allocated parking and improved pedestrian access to Barkham Ride. The new homes have also been designed to high energy efficiency standards to help residents keep energy bills low and reduce emissions contributing towards the council’s ambition to be carbon neutral by 2030.
There is an incredibly strong local community and the council has worked closely with them throughout as it was important the regeneration offered people the properties they needed to stay together as a community. Residents’ support has been great and there has already been lots of interest from local people already living in Gorse Ride looking to move into the new homes. Not just into the new social rented apartments and houses, but also the new shared ownership apartments and the three private houses which are all being sold to people who currently live in Gorse Ride.
Work on the development, which started on site in August 2019 and is expected to complete by spring next year, is being carried out by contractors R.J Leighfield and Sons Ltd, a family business with over 135 years in the industry. The company place a real focus on working closely with the local community to minimise impact and have received lots of positive compliments from those living around the site.
Harry Smith, Contract Surveyor at Leighfields, said: “We are pleased to be working with Wokingham Borough Council on this scheme, and look forward to any future opportunity to continue a healthy working relationship”
With development of Arnett Avenue well underway the council also continues to progress their exciting plans for wider Gorse Ride, with the planning application for Phase 2 submitted earlier this summer and expected to be considered in the coming months.
The second phase of the regeneration will see a range of 249 new houses and apartments built to replace dated and low quality homes on Billing Avenue, Orbit Close, Dart Close, Firs Close and parts of Gorse Ride South and Whittle Close.
The council will continue to work closely with the local community throughout the second phase of the regeneration to make sure people can relocate as smoothly as possible and new properties can be delivered with as little disruption as possible.
To find out more about Phase 2 of the Gorse Ride regeneration read our update handout online.
Note - Group photograph taken at event in October prior to current lockdown restrictions coming into force.