Work starts in Brixham at site of new social housing for local people

Work has started on a long-awaited scheme to create new social housing in Brixham on the site of the former St Kilda care home.

The former accommodation to the rear of Drew Street has been empty since the home closed in 2016.

The new scheme involves replacing the 1970s-built accommodation with 23 attractive and high quality one and two-bedroom flats.

The homes will be available at social rent to people aged 55 and over, with priority for those with a connection to Brixham.

The aim is that local people can downsize and move into the new flats, freeing up larger social housing properties in the area for households on the waiting list.

The new three-storey building will be built to high standards of sustainability and will be in keeping with the Conservation Area.

The building will include communal space, lifts and parking in an attractive carefully landscaped setting.

The adjoining 19th Century listed villa fronting onto Drew Street will be restored separately.

It is likely that this will be used temporarily as the site office during construction.

Planning permission has been granted and the Council has appointed Classic Builders (South West) Ltd to deliver the scheme.

The contractor took control of the site in mid-June and works are under way to prepare for the safe removal of asbestos and demolition works.

After the demolition and site clearance during the summer, construction of the new building will follow and is expected to take around 18 months to complete.

The £5.7million scheme is being part-funded by a grant from Homes England to deliver homes for social rent.

Torbay Council is bringing forward the project under its commitment to deliver homes for households who are in need and might struggle to find suitable accommodation, putting increased pressure on the Council's finances.

The financial business case was approved by the Council in February 2024 and the scheme is in line with the Corporate Plan.

This sets out a pledge to work to deliver a diverse choice of housing for Torbay's residents that meets every stage of life and lifestyle – homes that are safe, warm, fit for purpose and more environmentally friendly.

The Council's Housing Strategy identifies that need on the Housing Register has increased by 50 per cent since 2018, with more than 1,600 applicants in housing need.

The Strategy includes a commitment to build social housing as well as working with partners to improve the number and quality of available homes.

Cllr Alan Tyerman, Torbay Council's Cabinet Member for Housing, said: "Developing St Kilda's is a key priority for the Council. It will provide homes for older single people and couples to live independently in their community for the long-term and means they can downsize into a more manageable and suitable space.

"This in turn frees up larger homes locally so they can be refurbished and re-let to households with children. It benefits the Council by adding to the supply of social housing and helps to reduce the pressures we might otherwise face from the costs to our social care and housing services.

"We are delighted that we have got this scheme over the line and that work has started. It is a significant moment for us and for the people of Brixham, and I am delighted that we are seeing the redevelopment of a key brownfield site in the town.

"The building will be built to high standards of environmental sustainability, and in keeping with the Conservation Area. The apartments will be let at social rent to people aged 55 and over, and those who have a connection to Brixham will be prioritised."

Paul Britton, South West Regional Lead for One Public Estate, which gave a grant to fund the demolition, said: “The sole reason for the Land Release Fund is to support the release of council-owned brownfield land for housing. Our support has enabled this important site to come forward, creating much needed affordable homes within reach of the town centre."

The One Public Estate programme is delivered by a partnership of the Local Government Association and UK Government, supporting local public sector bodies to kick-start regeneration and transform public service delivery.

Based in Plymouth, Exeter and Cornwall, Classic Builders (South West) Ltd is an award-winning company that has experience in residential and commercial developments, with particular experience in social housing delivery.

A spokesperson for Classic Builders said: "We’re excited to be working with Torbay Council to deliver this important project. St Kilda’s represents an amazing opportunity for Brixham and we’re delighted to be playing our part in delivering it for the Council.

“We’re extremely proud to be appointed as main contractor for the St Kilda’s project. As a local business we take great pride in supporting our clients and delivering key local projects such as this.”

The Council is also using Devon-based consultancy Taylor Lewis to manage the contract delivery on its behalf.

Anyone who wants to apply for a place in the new St Kilda development should follow the process through Devon Home Choice (www.devonhomechoice.com).

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