Care worker Michaela James, aged 24, is delighted to have gained her independence after moving into her stylish new Hemel Hempstead flat – which is also Hightown Housing Association’s 5,000th property.

At a special event on 12th February, local MP and Minister for Policing, Fire and Criminal Justice and Victims, Mike Penning took centre stage to mark the opening of the Park Lane development, including Michaela’s new home.

The charitable organisation has built 70 homes for affordable rent and 15 for shared ownership sale on the site of the town’s former Royal Mail sorting office, just behind the Marlowes Shopping Centre.

Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning was joined by Michaela when he cut the ribbon to declare the new development open and celebrate Hightown reaching the landmark of its 5,000th property. Cllr Margaret Griffiths, Deputy Leader of Dacorum Borough Council, also joined the celebrations with David Bogle (Hightown Chief Executive) and Tony Keen (Chair of the Hightown Board).

Mike Penning said: “I was absolutely delighted to officially open the new Hightown affordable homes in Park Lane. It is great to see such good quality architectural design being used in such a prominent location in the town centre. The mix of affordable rental homes and shared ownership will enable more local families get a foot on the housing ladder. This is a great project.”

Before moving into her new home, Michaela, a Senior Care Worker at a nursing home in Chalfont St Peter, had been living with her parents after leaving university.

She said: “It’s great to have my own place, and it’s a really lovely flat. My boyfriend and family helped me furnish it. I particularly like the fact I’ve got my own parking space and it’s just a 40 minute drive into work. Everyone at Hightown has been really helpful and kept me informed along the way which made the process of moving into my flat much easier than I expected.”

Hightown is keen to help tackle the UK’s housing crisis by building increasing numbers of affordable homes for rent as well as shared ownership. Last year only one other housing association in the UK increased its stock at a greater rate.

It also wants to create attractive homes where people will enjoy living, and the design of the houses on the Park Lane scheme has been inspired by the idealism of the housing being built in the late 1940s and early 1950s when Hemel Hempstead was one of Britain’s first new towns.

Hightown Chief Executive David Bogle said: “We’re delighted to have reached the milestone of our 5,000th property, as it’s a significant step in our aim to deliver more than 1,000 affordable homes within three years and play our part in tackling the national housing crisis.”

The 15 houses on the Park Lane development are available for shared ownership sale, giving people an affordable way to buy their home by purchasing a share in the property and paying rent on the remaining share. Shared owners can buy further shares when they can afford it, until they eventually own their home outright.

You can book an appointment to attend the Park Lane open day on Saturday 20th February (10am-2pm) by calling 01442 292381. Find out more at www.hightownhomes.com.