Award shortlist for much-needed housing project

An ambitious development providing much-needed homes for the Battle area has been shortlisted for a national award.

The Blackfriars scheme, which will include 200 highly sustainable, low carbon homes, has been announced as a finalist in the Inside Housing Development Awards for best rural or suburban development.

One of six developments in line for the award, Rother District Council will find out if it is successful later this year.

Cllr Terry Byrne, portfolio holder for housing and homes, said: “We are delighted to be considered for this national award.  Being shortlisted recognises the hard work that has gone into this project so far, and the efforts being made to ensure that the development is environmentally friendly, while respecting local heritage and landscape.

“We hope that, with our commitment to becoming a carbon zero district, this project will set a positive example to other developers in the area and encourage them to consider the environment in every scheme they bring forward.”

The scheme, designed by architects BE Design, was granted planning permission at the district council’s Planning Committee in April. It will be built out through the council’s housing company, which is currently accepting bids from contractors to carry out the work.

Once finished, the site will contain 200 homes including 42 affordable rented properties and 28 homes for shared ownership and will have been made possible with the help of funding from Homes England to pay for a new road to serve the site.

All new homes have been designed to significantly reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, while minimising energy costs for residents. They will maximise the use of solar and renewable energy technologies, and the development will include green spaces and good quality public realm. Landscaped spaces will promote ecological biodiversity which will be enhanced throughout the existing woodland and through the further planting of wildflowers and diverse, native species.

Blackfriars was first allocated for housing 50 years ago, but development has stalled for various reasons over the years.

Richard Thomas, Chairman of the Rother District Council housing company Board of Directors said “The changing levels in the land, sensitive ecological constraints and access issues has made this a challenging site to develop, but with new housing in the district so desperately needed the Rother District Council housing company hopes to step up to the task.

“While spades are yet to go into the ground, we are excited about what this development will bring to Battle and the district as a whole.”

It is anticipated that the selected contractor for the Blackfriars development will be announced in August 2021.

The winners of the Inside Housing Development Awards are expected to be announced in November.

Establishing the Rother District Council housing company was approved in principle by the council in December 2019 and signed-off in July 2020. It is intended to become a development vehicle for building 1,000 new homes in the district by 2035, including the development of Blackfriars.

Published: 17th May 2021

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