How Network Homes engaged with the local community to create a new neighbourhood of affordable homes.
Tim Goodwin is Regeneration Manager at Network Homes
18 July 2019
People often think of shiny new expensive apartments when local people are priced out of their area. Well, Network Homes’ £34m regeneration project on the edge of Hertford really changes that perspective, bringing quality affordable homes for local people to a small town of 26,000 residents.
The old Ridgeway, a former council estate on the edge of Hertford was a poor quality 1960s development. Homes were mouldy, dark and hard to heat. Communal spaces lacked a sense of ownership with poorly defined public areas and badly designed routes through the estate. We decided that a complete rebuild was required.
With funding from East Herts Council and Homes England (the first for a regeneration scheme) we dramatically remodelled the estate creating a new neighbourhood of streets with 134 new homes designed for modern living. This new Ridgeway is 100% affordable with 57 one, two and three-bedroom homes available through shared ownership and 77 affordable rent homes. These are a mixture of apartments and family-sized houses.
Engagement was key with this regeneration and we wanted to ensure local residents were consulted throughout. A specialist team from Network Homes based on site ensured that good working relationships with tenants were established. This was while the team acquired in-depth understanding of the old buildings and learnt about and engaged with wider neighbourhood issues, including falling school numbers, anti-social behaviour, retail and recreational amenities.
90% of residents fed back in a detailed consultation on the initial plans and 88% of those were pro-demolition. This overwhelming support for the regeneration helped consolidate the commitment of funding bodies and East Herts Council, so that the project took just over five years from feasibility through design, planning, decant, and demolition to completion. All residents were rehoused locally with the right to return at completion of the scheme.
Compared to the cramped flats of old, the new homes offer generous outside space, be it one of the balconies, the top floor roof terraces overlooking the Hertfordshire countryside, or courtyard style gardens.
New streets have been created and what was once wasteland has now been incorporated into the design to utilise the space for the benefit of residents. There is direct access out into the Hertfordshire countryside. We’ve celebrated the heritage of the area with streets and buildings named after reputable local people, including Humphrey Repton, the landscape architect of Panshanger Park.
The final result is a spectacular transformation with a new neighbourhood of affordable homes in keeping with a historic market town. It’s a prime example of an out of London regeneration scheme providing affordable homes, for local people in East Hertfordshire.