A specialist housing scheme aimed at supporting the homeless has reached the completion stage and welcomed the first residents.
The £3.5m award-winning project on Herbert Avenue in Poole, was constructed by Poole-based developer AJC Group, working in partnership with Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole (BCP) Council.
The purpose-designed eco-focused scheme was funded by BCP Council to create 24 ‘move on’ homes for local people who are currently homeless and require a stepping-stone between hostels and independent living.
The project was officially opened with a ribbon cutting event on Tuesday 31 October by local Councillors; Councillor Vikki Slade, Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Dynamic Places, Kieron Wilson, Portfolio Holder for Housing, and Ward councillors, Councillor Tony Trent, Councillor Adrian Chapmanlaw and Councillor Rachel Maidment, and David Cracklen, Director at AJC Group.
Located on the site of the former Bourne Valley Community Centre, the purpose-designed apartment buildings feature self-contained apartments, three of which are wheelchair accessible.
The site also includes 15 parking spaces, a bike store and a communal garden. The scheme has been meticulously designed to meet Low Passivhaus accreditation, ensuring the highest levels of energy efficiency and thermal performance. This will keep running costs and any energy bills for occupiers to a minimum.
AJC Group and BCP Council’s shared vision is to end homelessness, by ensuring everyone has a safe place to live that they can call home. The Herbert Avenue scheme will help to reduce the dependency on bed and breakfast accommodation, by providing a more suitable housing solution that can help to stop the cycle of homelessness.
Construction of this pioneering residential scheme began in 2022 using local resources and suppliers.
Councillor Kieron Wilson, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Regulatory Services, BCP Council, said: “Our long-term vision is to end homelessness across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, working with our partners to achieve this.
“This new development will be vital in providing much needed ‘move on’ accommodation for families and individuals who really need it, and with really good eco-standards that will benefit everyone who lives here, this highlights a successful working partnership with AJC Group to construct these much-needed new homes.”
The scheme, designed by Arcus Consulting, has won, and been shortlisted for several awards this year, including winning Best Affordable Development of the Year at the South West Insider Property Awards, and shortlisted for Affordable Housing Development of the Year at the national Inside Housing Development Awards, and Sustainable Development of the Year at the South Coast Property Awards 2023.
David Cracklen, Director of AJC Group, said: “With Poole and Sandbanks being such a tourist hotspot, the need for homeless accommodation might not be at the forefront of people’s minds. However, the high cost of living here and increasing rates of homelessness mean schemes like this are so vital.
“We are extremely pleased to have partnered with BCP Council on this project and completed the construction to such a high standard. Obtaining the funding for such an innovative project was a huge undertaking and it is a credit to the council’s innovative thinking and approach. It’s rare to see a housing development built to this exacting Low Passivhaus specification, due to the increased time and meticulous attention to detail required. This is our first scheme built to Low Passivhaus standards and we couldn’t be prouder of our achievement here.
“We are committed to reducing homelessness in the Wessex region and the 24 homes at Herbert Avenue contribute towards our pledge to build 500 new affordable homes by 2028.”
AJC Group currently has four additional sites including Lindsay Road and The Sloop, which are located in Poole. In Bournemouth The Sonnet apartment scheme is also under construction, while a partnership with Aster to deliver 57 affordable homes is underway in Dorchester. AJC Group is on track to deliver over 200 mixed-tenure homes during 2023, reflecting a total construction value in excess of £100m. The firm has become one of the most active residential development specialists across the Wessex region and has made a commitment to build 500 affordable homes in the next five years.