AJC Group has recently completed its £8m Violet Cross affordable development for Abri -– one of the largest housing providers operating in the south of England. Located in the rural Dorset village of Hazelbury Bryan, the 21 much-needed two- and three-bedroom homes are now ready for occupation.
An event for those directly involved in the project took place on site yesterday, to mark the completion of the scheme.
The community focused brownfield redevelopment has transformed the almost two-acre (0.73 Ha) site – formerly the Handley Cross Depot – which had lain derelict for eight years. It has also delivered biodiversity gains by enhancing boundary hedgerows and retaining and maintaining mature trees within the site. Ecological features have also been integrated into the structure of the properties, including two bee bricks per dwelling for solitary bees.
Planning permission was awarded to AJC Group for a collection of 13 open market homes and eight affordable dwellings (40%). However, in line with the company’s corporate strategy and ambition to change the face of social housing, the Dorset-headquartered housebuilder worked with Abri to deliver the scheme for 100% affordable housing. Site remediation and construction work took a total of 18 months to complete. Designed by Morgan Carey architects, there are five two-bedroom homes and 16 three-bedroom houses, with a variety of elevations, to create a striking street scene.
David Cracklen, Director of AJC Group, said: “We are extremely proud of this partnership project. Working together with Abri, we have transformed a derelict brownfield site into 21 outstanding new homes. These eco-focused houses are in line with our aim and vision to produce higher quality affordable homes throughout the Wessex region, responding to the housing needs of this previously underserved rural community.”
The nearest small town to the Hazelbury Bryan development site is Sturminster Newton, which is nearly five miles away.
Councillor Graham Carr-Jones, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Safety at Dorset Council, said: “Homes in stunning rural locations like this often come at a premium, which is why it’s so rewarding to see these completed homes, which will help more people onto the housing ladder.”
“Affordable housing supports the community and is one of the main contributing factors that enables local people to remain. Dorset Council continues to work closely with our communities to build more homes where they’re needed, and we’re committed to supporting the delivery of the right homes in the right places for generations to come.”
Ralph Facey, Director of Operations at Abri said: “The power of collaboration is invaluable to the housing sector and Violet Cross is a great example of what can be accomplished by working together. Thank you to Dorset Council and AJC Group for what has been achieved here. Working in partnership, we’ve helped deliver high-quality, affordable homes in a beautiful rural location that will help to strengthen the community.”
“Affordability is such a key issue now, particularly with the increased cost of living and the significant demand for affordable housing, so it’s great to be making all these 21 new homes affordable. Abri is committed to supporting communities and we hope these new sustainable, eco-conscious homes have all the elements needed for the community to thrive.”
Andrew Billany, Corporate Director of Housing at Dorset Council, said: “We know that there is a great need for affordable housing in predominantly rural areas like Hazelbury Bryan. Our Housing Register shows that to be the case, with many local people unable to find homes they can afford in the area. The new homes at Violet Cross are a vital contribution to help Hazelbury Bryan thrive as a place and as a community. Violet Cross provides a great place where local people and families can settle and enjoy all that Dorset offers. Dorset Council applauds the scheme and we are proud to have been part of making it happen.”
AJC Group has constructed the Violet Cross scheme with a simple palette of high-quality materials. This has been derived from the traditional local context and character of the hamlets, while providing cohesiveness and a sense of place, to ensure that the new homes fit in with the village. The development design reflects the agricultural and functional appearance of the former commercial buildings, while also responding to the rural edge.
The development incorporates a new hibernaculum for native species to migrate into and hedgehog highways have also been installed between the homes. Engagement with the local community informed the landscaping choices in respect of the public realm, and the scheme adheres to a strict biodiversity mitigation environment plan.
Having recently been named the youngest company to ever be crowned Housebuilder of the Year at the South Coast Property Awards in 2022, AJC Group is on track to become the leading affordable housing developer in the Wessex region. Over 200 mixed-tenure homes will be delivered during 2023, reflecting a construction value in excess of £100m.