'We are determined to keep innovating and building' – Council begins new homes on site of former Twin Foxes pub
PUBLISHED: 19:36 06 March 2017
Work has begun to replace the first pub ever built in Stevenage New Town with homes.
Contractors for Stevenage Borough Council begun building work at the site of the former Twin Foxes pub in Stevenage last week to build 14 affordable homes for local people.
The council says the £1.2 million scheme will transform the site on Rockingham Way, into much-needed council homes for local residents.
The council has appointed a local company, Westhouse Contractors Ltd, to build the new homes.
The council owned Twin Foxes opened in 1952 and closed in 2012.
Allegedly named after two brothers who became notorious for their poaching exploits around Stevenage, the threat of demolition had hung over the pub for many years.
With this and other schemes, the council is aiming to provide 500 new homes over the next 10 years to meet demand for social housing in the borough.
It has built eight new council homes at Archer Road, and 22 more are underway on the site. Five new homes for affordable rent in Kilner Close were finished last year, and has bought 28 flats and houses on the open market to add to its stock of 8,000 council houses.
Councillor Jeannette Thomas, the council’s executive member for housing, said: “Stevenage was developed as a New Town because people desperately needed homes. We are determined to keep innovating and building to replace those lost under Right to Buy. We are working hard to find new sites and develop them quickly to create the homes local people need.”
Melvin Marks, Managing Director of Westhouse said he was delighted to be working with Stevenage Borough Council to deliver new affordable housing.
“This is the first of two schemes we are delivering for Stevenage and we look forward to working with local companies, where ever possible, to bring a boost to the local area,” he said.
Pupils from St Nicholas Church of England Primary School & Nursery and Broom Barns Community Primary School will engage some of their pupils via a completion to design the art work.
The council firmly believes a shortage of affordable housing in Stevenage is forcing people into the expensive private sector. It lost much of its council housing when the government introduced its Right to Buy scheme but – due to the specific rules of the scheme – can only spend a very limited amount of income from selling homes, on building new ones.
It is also hampered by having to pay back £200m loaned to it in 2013 by the Public Works Board to buy back council housing which would otherwise have been sold off.
Scott Crudgington, the council’s chief executive, said: “We are hopeful that the £1.2m contract awarded to Westhouse will benefit local companies as well. Estimates by the Confederation of British Industry show that for every £1 spent on construction the wider benefit to the economy is equal to £2.84. Clearly this and other construction activity in Stevenage will begin to lay the foundations for the towns future prosperity.
“By engaging the local schools we are also trying to make sure we capture the imagination of the town’s younger generation to ensure they feel they can shape and influence their surroundings.”
The council is also consulting with residents on Thursday this week about another proposed scheme for the former March Hare pub site, before a planning application is submitted. There are two drop-in sessions at 9.30am to 11.30am and 4.30pm to 7pm, at the Phoenix Group’s premises in The Hydeout Centre at 2 to 6 The Hyde.