28 November 2019
A partnership between Haig Housing Trust and Colchester Borough Council has provided seven affordable family homes for ex-service personnel and their families. This is the Trust’s first development in Colchester and is an important step given the borough’s historic association with the military, going back to Roman times.
The project has seen up to £450,000 of the council’s ‘Right to Buy’ receipts used to support the Trust buy the homes on the open market, for subsequent rent to eligible veterans and their families. In return, the council have received nomination rights to the properties through its choice-based lettings scheme ‘Gateway to Homechoice’.
Colchester has a rich military history. The first permanent military garrison was established there following the Roman conquest of Britain and it remains an important garrison town to this day, being home to the British Army’s 16th Air Assault Brigade; it also has a significant Army Reserve presence.
The council invited Haig Housing Trust to apply for the grant in the same way it does with other providers to help speed up delivery of additional affordable housing in the borough, and help meet its commitment to find housing solutions for former Service personnel through its Armed Forces Covenant.
James Richardson, Chief Executive of Haig Housing, said: “Haig Housing Trust is extremely pleased and grateful to Colchester Borough Council for its support and encouragement in providing homes for Veterans in the town. Haig has had an ambition for a long time to offer homes to Veterans and their families in Colchester, a town of significant military history and presence.”
“This funding support has allowed for more provision and speedy delivery of homes. Haig looks forward to a long and close cooperation to uphold the commitment of the Armed Forces Covenant.”
Under the arrangement with Haig Housing Trust, priority has been given to applicants with a local connection to Colchester.
The Trust has funded 70% of the purchase costs while the council’s £450,000 grant has made up the remaining 30% – in line with the Government’s funding criteria for Right to Buy receipts. All properties were purchased by March 2019 and have all been subsequently let at rent levels set at approximately 60% of the current market rate.
The Council’s support to boost affordable housing in the borough compliments the Council’s own affordable housing development programme where it aims to deliver 350 affordable homes in the next five years.
Cllr Adam Fox, Portfolio Holder for Housing, said: “We are delighted to be working with Haig Housing to provide much-needed affordable family homes for ex-service personnel in the borough.
“As signatories to the Armed Forces Covenant, the council is committed to ensuring that members of the Armed Forces community are treated with fairness and respect and do not face disadvantage in the provision of public and commercial services.
“This important collaboration stands as yet another significant expression of the spirit of support and co-operation that exists between us and the town’s armed forces community.”