A NEW development to help tackle the shortage of affordable housing has been opened in Christchurch.

The new buildings, which are located close to the town centre, have been built by housing association Raglan in partnership with the council.

Cllr Sue Spittle, portfolio holder for housing, said she was pleased to see the plans come to fruition. She said: “I was delighted to announce previously that the council was willing to contribute £123,000 from housing monies, allowing Raglan to secure an additional six affordable homes.

“We hope that this innovative approach is a model we can continue to adopt in future developments.

“Because of the success of this scheme council officers, with, of course the agreement of Raglan Housing Association, intend to carry out a post development impact appraisal for the whole scheme, to enable us to assess the success of the scheme and its benefits for the community and residents.”

Cllr Spittle was joined by the mayor of Christchurch, Cllr John Lofts, as well housing association staff, residents and suppliers for the official opening of the Parsonage Close and Bronte Avenue development.

In total 38 new homes have been built, comprising 21 for private sale and 17 ‘affordable’ homes, of which 11 have been provided for shared ownership and six for affordable rent.

The project was jointly funded by Christchurch council, Raglan and the Homes and Community Agency. The properties include gas central heating, state-of-the-art- fitted kitchens, gardens and parking space.

The housing strategy for Christchurch and East Dorset has identified an annual shortfall of 778 affordable homes in the area, with just under half reported in Christchurch.

Richard Stevenson, of Raglan, said the new development will enable people with a long-standing connection to the area to remain in the community and close to friends, family and work.

He added: “Property prices in Christchurch are among the highest in the country and as a result, there is a desperate need for attractive, high quality housing which local people can afford.”