Sheldon Bosley Knight Director Daniel Jackson offers an insight into how private and charitable sectors can work together to help with the provision of housing for those with limited means.
Long before I moved to the area or Sheldon Bosley Knight opened an office, I have always felt Winchcombe had a certain magic to it.
The beautiful streetscapes, mishmash of buildings and different architectural styles tied together with a common theme of Cotswold stone and slate roofs, conjure up chocolate box images.
Driving through the town is made all the more interesting and prolonged by the narrow streets, not designed for modern cars, which means you have to pull over every 50 yards or so for oncoming traffic, giving even more time to appreciate the architectural surroundings.
Prominent amongst these is Tudor House in Hailes Street, a collection of four apartments set in beautiful, landscaped gardens and a haven in the middle of the town.
It was bequeathed in the will of Mabel Shickle for “gentlepeople of limited means” in 1931 and is these days managed, maintained and cared for by the Charity of Mabel Shickle.
The Trustees of the charity do this without private or charity funding, whilst charging a very heavily subsidised rent to its occupiers.
Last year I was honoured to be invited to become one of the Trustees, an invitation I readily accepted.
Tudor House is a unique offering in today’s housing environment. It is not managed affordable housing nor is it a traditional alms house, but instead falls between the two.
There are always challenges in managing a building of this nature and an ongoing repair list which often exceeds the funds available.
My co-Trustees in particular do a fantastic job in balancing these competing priorities incredibly efficiently to the benefit of the residents.
On the rare occasion a property becomes available at Tudor House, we are inundated with applications from people who cannot afford either private market property rents or to buy. There is a large weight of responsibility on the Trustees to ensure that a let is granted to those most eligible and in need.
My day job as a Land Agent involves planning and development and the delivery of new housing schemes both on town centre, brown field and edge of settlement green field sites.
House builders and land promoters in this country often receive a bad public press for the work they do.
In my experience it is certainly true some are better than others in both their approach to the planning process, public consultation and in the finished design of the product that is delivered.
However, there is currently nothing short of a housing crisis in this country with estimates of housing need ranging from anything between 300,000 houses per year to 500,000. Historic under-delivery and delays in local authorities creating local plans means this problem is only getting compounded through lack of delivery.
There is an obligation on every local planning authority in the country to demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing.
Tewkesbury borough, where Winchcombe sits, recently lost a landmark appeal in nearby Gotherington demonstrating it can only currently represent 1.82 years supply.
That picture is true across much of the country. However, with the political nature of the planning system and the government’s apparent lack of interest in building on green belt land, this problem is only set to get worse.
In my experience, the development industry as a whole does a fantastic job in difficult circumstances in trying to negotiate the competing interests of local residents, planning authorities and the government to deliver new homes and affordable housing for those who need it.
Properties such as Tudor House are a wonderful example of how the private sector and charities can contribute in some small way to this for the benefit of their residents. But it relies heavily on the voluntary time and efforts of Trustees and other services in order to deliver for its residents.
The housing problem in this country needs addressing at a national level to remove some of the red tape and political influence in the planning system. I am grateful at least to be contributing in some small way in our little corner of Winchcombe.