31/01/2023

New affordable homes, shops and services create a community in Bidwell West

Central Bedfordshire Councillors and Hightown staff standing in front of new homes and a Hightown branded ribbon in front of them.

Hightown has officially opened a brand-new affordable housing development of 52 homes in the new community of Bidwell West Local Centre, near Houghton Regis.

A special event held on Wednesday 25 January, saw Cllr Eugene Ghent, Executive Member for Housing and Assets at Central Bedfordshire Council, declare the homes officially open. Also attending the event was Yvonne Farrell, Mayor of Houghton Regis, Councillors from Central Bedfordshire Council and Houghton Regis Town Council, Hightown’s Chief Executive and Board Members, and representatives from Brickhill Construction, the contractor responsible for the build of the new development.

The 38 two-bedroom and 2 one-bedroom apartments for social rent will house people on Central Bedfordshire Council’s housing needs list, and the 12 two-bedroom apartments for shared ownership (part rent, part buy) will help people get their first step on the property ladder.

As well as delivering 52 brand-new affordable homes, the development will be supported by a day nursey for 0–5-year-olds, a dentist and several retail units including a Co-Op food store, a coffee shop, a Domino's Pizza and a fish & chip shop, providing a boost for the local economy by creating jobs, as well as homes for local people.

Brickhill received planning permission from Central Bedfordshire Council for Phase two of the site in May 2021, with development work starting later that year and taking around a year to complete.

During his speech Alan Head, Chair of Hightown’s Development Committee, shared how the homes were built following a joint bid for funding by Hightown and Central Bedfordshire Council to Homes England. Further grant funding from Homes England and Hightown meant the new homes could be let for social rent (60% of market rate) rather than affordable rent (80% of market rate).

David Bogle, Chief Executive at Hightown Housing Association, said:

"We are delighted to have partnered with Central Bedfordshire Council and Brickhill to deliver these homes and retail units, which have established a brand-new community for local people in Bedfordshire. I am very grateful for the funding from Homes England which allowed us to let 40 of the homes for social rent. With the current housing crisis and rising cost of living, building safe and affordable homes for people priced out of buying or renting on the open market has never been more important."  

Cllr Eugene Ghent, Executive Member for Housing and Assets at Central Bedfordshire Council adds,

"It's been my pleasure to come and officially open the homes. We know that demand for affordable quality homes is high, and more and more people are wanting to come and live in Central Bedfordshire. This development has delivered modern, high quality and well-designed homes that will help to meet the needs of our residents."

To help fix the homelessness and housing crisis, Hightown plans to build over 1,000 homes in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire over the next two years.