Homes for Wells Blog

June 2018  

Is the north Norfolk coast getting more like the North Cornish Coast? Figures show that in 2016 and 2017, no fewer than 67% of properties bought in the PL28 postcode centred on North Cornwall around Padstow and Saint Merryn, were bought as second homes and investment properties. Such a high percentage is clearly a great worry, and increases the danger of local communities becoming ‘ghost towns’. We will work really hard to prevent this happening in Wells, will we not.

We are aware that many second home owners  are kind and generous and wish to give something back to our Wells community, where they spend so many happy times and make good friends. Many second home owners and landlords of holiday rentals also appreciate that they are privileged to have a holiday home here in Wells,  or to have a good income from rental property. How can they help us?  I address the comments below to them.

We are asking them to channel one weeks rent each year into the local community via donations towards affordable rental housing for local people on low incomes, who are not so fortunate. There is a great need for affordable, secure, rental housing in our town and surrounding villages. Also of course the vital need to keep young families in town, children in our schools and staff in our local businesses.  This community has a great heart and we are pleased that you are part of it.  Many of you have plans to move here permanently or to retire here, and you bring many incoming skills and talents which are greatly appreciated by us all.

The Homes for Wells second homeowners scheme offers a simple way for second homeowners, and holiday let owners, to help our local North Norfolk communities in providing affordable housing.  Will you consider committing to donate at least one weeks rent a year? Or the equivalent, if your property is not rented, but a second home?  Homes for Wells will uses this funding to provide genuinely affordable homes in Wells, and to try to prevent the loss of former social housing.  This takes serious money, and thanks to our recent successes in acquiring property, we really need to top up our funds to continue our efforts.  For me, it feels really good to be contributing to something so worthwhile and I hope that you will feel the same!  It will be so much appreciated.  We are happy to receive donations by cheque direct to our office in the Sackhouse or by online payment, but if you prefer to set up a standing order to pay a smaller ongoing amount each month, we would be most grateful.  Please contact our administrator Claire Sands on 01328 711703, or email her at office@homesforwells.co.uk for full details. Our new fundraising leaflets will be out shortly.

Now turning to our hardworking volunteers;  over the next 12 months, Homes for Wells will be very sorry to lose several people who have played key roles on our management board for over ten years. Three board members will be standing down at our AGM in September, and we are keen to attract new board members, both locals and incomers, who are experienced in business, IT and social housing, to join us in their place.  Although they will not leave us until September, I should like to offer our profound thanks to Marcus French (Housing), Jim Fergusson (our former treasurer and stalwart of the Finance committee) and Stuart Rangeley-Wilson (both Finance and Governance) for the over three decades they have between them devoted to Homes for Wells.  We will sorely miss them and their wise advice and experience, and we really hope that they will keep in touch from time to time, after they leave us.

 As you know, we are all volunteers and unpaid. Board members attend meetings every other month and are encouraged to join a subcommittee to use their interests and valuable experience. Our subcommittees are: Governance; Finance; Housing; Development Projects; Allocations and Fundraising, and any successful applicant will join an enthusiastic and effective professional team.  Do think of joining us and help us to make a very worthwhile contribution to our local community, and to help it to thrive.  If you are interested, please contact Claire Sands at the address below. Thank you all!

 

May 2018

Another really busy month, again largely taken up with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) stuff which has been filling my head with puzzles and technical terms for much of this first quarter of the year. Thankfully the first big push is over, but there is still lots to do. I expect there are a number of other Wells business people who are also saying “Phew”...

However, I said that I would, this month revisit information from the housing survey -  and remind you that the whole document is available on our website.  Here are some highlighted numbers:

The NNDC Housing Register for Wells for affordable housing vacancies stands at 107 households, a 17.5% increase since 2011. Homes for Wells currently has 26 household applications seeking homes in Wells and surrounding villages.

6 in 10 of households who need to move in the next 5 years are seeking affordable, secure rented accommodation.  Half of those looking for secure affordable housing are looking for a 2 bedroom property.  Sadly, 23 households reported that a family member had moved away from the town in the last 5 years due to difficulties in finding a suitable affordable home in Wells.  Nearly all (96%) of all responding households indicated they would support an affordable housing project for local people in Wells.

At the time the survey went to print there was only one available private rented property in Wells,  a 4 bedroom property at £1,100 per calendar month and one that had been recently let, 2 bedrooms for £695.00 per month.

The average price per property sold in Wells between December 2017 and February 2018 was £456,071 – compared with the average price of a property sold in North Norfolk during the same period which was £287,081, and in Norfolk generally, £216,174.  The average price of a property in Wells during the first three months of 2011 was £294,568, so house prices have increased by over half (54.8%) since then, which greatly impacts on affordability. (In the previous five year period (from 2006-2011) prices increased by 15%). Short supply of course means that the selling price, or rental, goes up accordingly and becomes unaffordable to many young people.

Here are responses made by local householders in the Wells area in reply to the question:   Has anyone from your family moved away from the town in the last 5 years, due to difficulties in finding a suitable home locally? (Family means your children, parents, brothers and sisters.) were :

Sister studied at university in London. Employment here is limited.

No affordable houses for those on low income /Too expensive, had to move to a cheaper area

My kids moved away, no help from Council, Victory or Homes for Wells, so they moved
out of town. One has come back, renting a friend’s house

No homes and the few to rent are too expensive / Low Wages and cost of renting

Renting prices too high / nowhere affordable to rent.Unable to afford property prices within the Wells area /  No work or housing

Lack of housing and lack of work. / No affordable housing in Wells for singles or people on low income /Couldn’t get a place as he was a single working person

Our son with full time job still unable to afford to rent in Wells on single income
Price of property for sale or rent for 1 person. Not eligible for social housing / No properties available to rent for young people.

Looking forward -  where do we build?  The responses to the survey question on suggested brownfield sites near the centre of Wells available for development were: Maryland, Freeman Street, the Market Lane Exception site (behind the new Hopkins Home development),the allotments near Westfield Avenue, disused spaces at Northfield and the former Rectory (Woodlands). Also suggested were parcels of land in adjacent villages – Holkham, Stiffkey and Warham. 

The majority of survey responses suggested developments should be at or near the derelict industrial units at Maryland, but we understand that planning consent would not be given due to the flood risk.  Some other suggested sites also have their problems. Therefore, we need to look at all options.  The Old School was our first major project and, as the site is large, there is probably potential to add more dwellings here. We have asked for a review with the Town Planners to explore this.

The Market Lane exception site is the preferred option of NNDC for future developments  (and indeed for Homes for Wells). It would be ideal as the next large project for us, and we will keep our collective fingers crossed,  but we will also await the publication of the 2018 Town Plan to see which other land may be available to us.

We will also try to bid for good quality former social housing properties which have been sold under restriction, which means they may only be acquired by an established resident of Norfolk. These are often properties which had originally been bought by “Right to Buy” and then sold on. They may be in surrounding villages, Holkham, Stiffkey, Warham and Wighton where there are also needs.   However, the name  ‘Homes for Wells’ shows our priority: to provide homes in Wells itself wherever possible, as this is where the great majority of our prospective tenants want to live.  So we will continue to liaise with other housing associations, to buy properties which they might otherwise sell as commercial holiday lets, or second homes.  We particularly want to buy existing Wells social housing units which may be, or have been lost to Wells social housing by being sold off.  We offer our sincere thanks to our town council, and indeed to NNDC also, who have been really supportive of our efforts.

To sum up, everyone who lives in Wells will know that housing is too expensive for local incomes, and in short supply.  Since it was set up in 2006, Homes for Wells has acquired 17 individual properties around Wells, some donated by generous benefactors, some by generous donations of funds, and some by grants and loans. We will strive to attract more donations of properties and funds to buy properties during the years ahead, and live up to the true ethos of community benefit, by providing affordable rental housing to keep our community family friendly, and to keep our local young people in their town.

Onwards and upwards!

 

April 2018

What a busy month!  We are still working on the Housing Needs Survey Report, and a lot of new information has come to light which will affect the shape of the eventual report. I hope to be in a position next month, to enlighten you all  with the most up-to-date information. 
Meanwhile, at the moment, most of our compliance work is to prepare for the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), which come into force on 25th of May this year. This sounds boring but is a big and important task, and is extremely relevant because the national press and news tells us of the somewhat unsavoury goings on with Facebook and a company called Cambridge Analytica, where, apparently, the personal data of 50 million plus Facebook users has been used, and possibly misused, without users’ consent in attempts to influence election and referendum results in the United States and United Kingdom. This is going to have a big  impact on the control and protection of personal data by the big global companies and on small businesses too, so what happened?

Here's what you need to know:  A personality quiz app apparently obtained data for 270,000 willing Facebook users, but it also sucked up info on all of their Facebook friends.  That meant the app hoovered up data for around 50-60 million users.  This data was reportedly sold on to UK research firm Cambridge Analytica.  Cambridge Analytica helps politicians and lobby groups create propaganda some of which may be ‘fake news’ or at least a little bit misleading; and makes the internet less reliable as a source of information. Put simply this firm targets individual voters and groups of voters and tries to influence them.  The data was supposedly used to boost the Brexit campaign and get Trump into the White House.  Facebook is said to have known about the data breach since 2015, and they  asked companies with the data to delete it, but didn’t make sure that happened.  There are now serious questions about whether Facebook has broken laws by giving up this data, and who is behind the misuse of it.

What does this have to do with Homes for Wells?   It means that we, together with all other organisations and businesses both big and small must be much more careful how we use, store and protect personal data, which may include sensitive data. Under the GDPR, we must all deal with data information securely, lawfully, fairly and transparently, and we must get our house in order by 25th May. We must think about how long we can retain personal data, and securely store it and then securely destroy it once it is no longer required  for its original purpose. Clearly, as in the Facebook example, personal data information must not be passed on without complying with all the new GDPR rules. I strongly urge all business people in Wells to get to grips with these new GDPR rules and to make sure their systems and processes  comply. Very large fines can be imposed for getting it wrong.  Google GDPR for more information.

Turning to the individual Facebook user, it probably means we should all be much more careful about the information we put on Facebook, and check our account settings,  and the information they hold on us.  For example, some of those who have closed their Facebook accounts and asked what personal information is held, have found out that their entire contact lists and records of all their telephone calls made and received, and all their telephone contacts have been hoovered up by Facebook, to be potentially sold and passed on. Very bad people indeed could get hold of your information. A useful rule is that you should not put, or allow any information about you,  on your Facebook page or account, that you would not want broadcast on national TV and radio or put up as a public notice in your town. In fact it is even worse than this, as such information may spread worldwide and be impossible to recover, and may be still found on the Internet years and years after the event.  This modern world is quite complicated isn’t it - take care and mind how you go!

CA

 

February 2018

Whilst preparing this article, I asked for contributions from our board members, and one of them, a local businessman whose family has lived in Wells for several generations, and who contributes to our community in all sorts of ways, made the following points from a business point of view:

“Wells is a victim of its own success. It is a lovely place with a harbour, low crime, and a family orientated lifestyle. People visit Wells and I hear a lot that they would love to live in Wells. Businesses also are doing well, people love the individual shops, and all the shops are occupied. In some cases, shops are able to keep going all year and make a good profit, because of the visitors and second home owners. But businesses require staff, mainly in the busy summer months, and most staff have to come from other parts of the UK and Europe. They also require accommodation, and this has become more evident each year. This is another pressure on the housing stock of Wells and the surrounding area. All the major businesses now require accommodation for their staff and this will become even more prominent with the Maltings opening, and the other talked about new businesses coming to Wells.

The Staithe Place development has provided several local residents with accommodation but there will still be a big demand for housing, and Homes for Wells will need to continue to provide affordable housing for key workers, local people and their families, just as much as 10 years ago, if not more”.

Can you guess who the above businessman may be? We look forward to getting more feedback from other businessmen in the town as part of our housing needs survey. We have had an excellent response so far from retired members of our community, but should love to receive more feedback from our younger members, who are more directly affected, So please let us know what you think. Time is short to get survey responses in, but we really welcome your general comments on your housing needs anyway. We hope to give you some results next month.

 Moving on to other topics. The government Homes and Communities Agency, which regulates social housing providers, was replaced by new agency, Homes England on 18 January 2018. The aim is to “do some things differently by getting homes built directly on public sector land, encouraging more competition and partnerships, working with local authorities, and other partners. Therefore, the relaunched Homes England has a clear, unifying purpose: To make a home within reach for everyone”. A laudable aim.

We hope that the confusion of reorganisation does not distract them from their purpose, though.

 We talk a lot about an increasing lack of social housing, causing a homelessness crisis, as market rents seem to soar ever upwards. So what is social housing? The main function of social housing is to provide accommodation that is affordable to people on low incomes. Limits to rent increases set by law mean that rents are kept affordable. Social housing is rarely provided by private individuals. Locally and nationally we need much, much more.

 The Government was recently criticised by the public spending watchdog for failing to effectively tackle the rocketing homelessness, that has been partly fuelled by its own welfare reforms as well as the crisis in housing. A snapshot overnight count last autumn recorded a 134% increase in homelessness since the present government took power, the National Audit Office (NAO) said. One in 200 people in England is homeless, Shelter said, adding it had mapped 50 ‘hotspots’ across the UK showing where the ‘epidemic’ was most dire.

 Shelter's figures nationally show that in April 2017, 281,000 people were living in temporary accommodation in Britain, which included 120,000 children. A further 21,300 were in single homeless hostels or social services housing, while large numbers were rough sleeping.

 By Autumn 2018 this had greatly increased bringing the total number of homeless people in the UK to 307,000, again according to Shelter. That means that there are more people sleeping rough or in temporary accommodation than all of the 296,478 residents of Newcastle-upon-Tyne local authority area. Some 77,240 households – including 120,540 children – were in temporary accommodation.

 So perhaps here in Wells we are coping better than many other areas, thanks to the support of our amazing Wells community, but we cannot rest on our laurels. Let us hope that Homes England makes a real difference. Meanwhile, if you can help us with donations, or volunteer to join in with our small but enthusiastic fund raising team, even occasionally, it will be greatly appreciated.

January 2018

 Whilst preparing this article, I asked for contributions from our board members, and one of them, a local businessman whose family has lived in Wells for several generations, and who contributes to our community in all sorts of ways, made the following points from a business point of view:

 “Wells is a victim of its own success. It is a lovely place with a harbour, low crime, and a family orientated lifestyle. People visit Wells and I hear a lot that they would love to live in Wells. Businesses also are doing well, people love the individual shops, and all the shops are occupied. In some cases, shops are able to keep going all year and make a good profit, because of the visitors and second home owners. But businesses require staff, mainly in the busy summer months, and most staff have to come from other parts of the UK and Europe. They also require accommodation, and this has become more evident each year. This is another pressure on the housing stock of Wells and the surrounding area. All the major businesses now require accommodation for their staff and this will become even more prominent with the Maltings opening, and the other talked about new businesses coming to Wells.

 The Staithe Place development has provided several local residents with accommodation but there will still be a big demand for housing, and Homes for Wells will need to continue to provide affordable housing for key workers, local people and their families, just as much as 10 years ago, if not more”.

 Can you guess who the above businessman may be? We look forward to getting more feedback from other businessmen in the town as part of our housing needs survey. We have had an excellent response so far from retired members of our community, but should love to receive more feedback from our younger members, who are more directly affected, So please let us know what you think. Time is short to get survey responses in, but we really welcome your general comments on your housing needs anyway. We hope to give you some results next month.

 Moving on to other topics. The government Homes and Communities Agency, which regulates social housing providers, was replaced by new agency, Homes England on 18 January 2018. The aim is to “do some things differently by getting homes built directly on public sector land, encouraging more competition and partnerships, working with local authorities, and other partners. Therefore, the relaunched Homes England has a clear, unifying purpose: To make a home within reach for everyone”. A laudable aim.

We hope that the confusion of reorganisation does not distract them from their purpose, though.

We talk a lot about an increasing lack of social housing, causing a homelessness crisis, as market rents seem to soar ever upwards. So what is social housing? The main function of social housing is to provide accommodation that is affordable to people on low incomes. Limits to rent increases set by law mean that rents are kept affordable. Social housing is rarely provided by private individuals. Locally and nationally we need much, much more.

The Government was recently criticised by the public spending watchdog for failing to effectively tackle the rocketing homelessness, that has been partly fuelled by its own welfare reforms as well as the crisis in housing. A snapshot overnight count last autumn recorded a 134% increase in homelessness since the present government took power, the National Audit Office (NAO) said. One in 200 people in England is homeless, Shelter said, adding it had mapped 50 ‘hotspots’ across the UK showing where the ‘epidemic’ was most dire.

Shelter's figures nationally show that in April 2017, 281,000 people were living in temporary accommodation in Britain, which included 120,000 children. A further 21,300 were in single homeless hostels or social services housing, while large numbers were rough sleeping.

By Autumn 2018 this had greatly increased bringing the total number of homeless people in the UK to 307,000, again according to Shelter. That means that there are more people sleeping rough or in temporary accommodation than all of the 296,478 residents of Newcastle-upon-Tyne local authority area. Some 77,240 households – including 120,540 children – were in temporary accommodation.

So perhaps here in Wells we are coping better than many other areas, thanks to the support of our amazing Wells community, but we cannot rest on our laurels. Let us hope that Homes England makes a real difference. Meanwhile, if you can help us with donations, or volunteer to join in with our small but enthusiastic fund raising team, even occasionally, it will be greatly appreciated.

December 2017

We hope you all had a happy and peaceful Christmas and send best wishes for 2018 from everyone at Homes for Wells to all in Wells and surrounding villages.

Our New Year resolution is to continue to work with local bodies on new projects to ensure there is enough affordable rental housing for all those in need, and you will have received, with last month’s Quay magazine, our Housing Needs Survey.   This may have been lost amongst the Christmas cards over the Christmas break, but please do find and return the forms as soon as possible before 31 January. Further forms are available from our office, our website or the library.

You will be aware of the real need for more affordable housing for local families and key workers in Wells. Previous surveys in 2006 and 2011, showed how many people were affected at the time, and we must bring this up to date. These surveys also tell us how many one-bed, two-bed and three-bed dwellings were needed. The findings of our current survey will be published on our website: http://www.homesforwells.co.uk
 To remind you, these are the key workers who we are trying to help:

  • National Health Service staff (Wells Cottage Hospital and Health Centre)
  • Paramedics
  • Social workers
  • Staff working in Alderman Peel High School, Wells Primary School and Wells
  • Children’s Centre
  • Police officers, Community Support Officers and civilian police staff
  • Firefighters
  • Coastguards
  • Lifeguards
  • RNLI workers and volunteers
  • Lifeboat Guild volunteers
  • Postal workers
  • Post office workers
  • Harbour office staff
  • Support workers (employed and volunteers) for the elderly and disabled
  • Flood and coast watch volunteers
  • Fisherman based in Wells
  • Agricultural workers

also others making a significant contribution to the local economy in accordance with the allocation policy of Homes for Wells.

Several recent EDP articles clearly highlight the crisis in affordable rental housing in our area, and make the following points.  Although the Government has recently made some small changes to alleviate the problem, apparently some earlier right to buy and right to acquire policies, together with preferential government loans to help with deposits, have had more of an effect in lining developers pockets and increasing house prices generally, and have also actually reduced affordable rental housing stocks. Although probably unintentional, the right to buy and right to acquire has had the unfortunate consequence locally, of removing former council houses from the housing stock available for social rental housing.  These often become private landlord owned rental properties for holiday lets and high market seasonal rents, and this is apparent to anyone with a knowledge of property in Wells and surrounding villages.

As the EDP says, ‘Until we see investment directly into the actual housing required in the right locations to solve this crisis, and policies that support development and not developers’ profits and higher land prices, then there will be no solution’.  The EDP further reports that there are 32,000 households on the waiting list for council housing in Norfolk, with no real prospect of providing much additional social rental housing,  which is the bedrock for housing lower income young families.
The EDP also says that half of major developments are not reaching affordable homes targets. There seems to be a well trodden path for developers nationally to obtain planning consents by including the proper number of affordable homes, and then later applying to have the condition changed to reduce the affordable housing. In the light of the housing crisis, perhaps the government should consider changing the law to prevent this routine avoidance of national policy.

All of this is well known, and we hope that the tide will soon turn to help our hard working young people and to invest in their, and our, worthwhile futures. Meanwhile, please support us when you can, donations and fund raising are particularly useful.  Happy New Year

November 2017

After another busy month we held our well attended AGM on 12 October, and we are pleased to introduce our four newly elected Board members:

Chair - David Fennell
Treasurer - Roderick Day
Chair of Development Committee - Nick Glaister.
Also serving on the Development Committee - Johanna Tennant.

The continuing board members are: Christine Abel, the new Chair of the Governance Committee and Vice Chair of HfW, and Jim Ferguson, former treasurer; and the board members belowwill carry on chairing the committees:

Geoff Finkemeyer  as Chair of Allocations;
Marcus French as Chair of Housing;
Annie Golding as Chair of Fundraising;
Stuart Rangeley-Wilson as Chair of Finance.

Our Development Committee will look at all new opportunities for affordable housing in Wells, and will prepare bids and project manage the work. Claire Sands, helped by Kady Riches, continue as our able Administrators, and our Governance Committee will ensure we are fully prepared and compliant to bid for every project.

Those who have left us, but whose great contributions will be sorely missed, are Lynn Watson and Duncan Marshall-Andrew. We thank them for their tireless service.  Lynn was mentioned in our last article, but Duncan too has made great contributions particularly with overseeing our biggest project, developing our Award-winning Old School, completed in 2015, and also with wise advice on all building and development matters. Thank you again Duncan. The Old School brought us to 17 affordable rental housing properties for key workers and local people with family connections in the town. Our ambition now is to prepare for more growth. From our launch in 2006, Homes for Wells has worked hard to create these properties We feel excited to be moving on to the next phase with some great new additions to the board.  Our aims are increasingly important as we are shocked to learn that the number of second and holiday homes in Wells has increased to over 30% of all housing stock.

Therefore, we really look forward to working with Wells Town Council, NNDC and other bodies to ensure there is enough affordable housing for all those in need, and as our next step we will  carry out a fresh Housing Needs Survey. There is a serious need for more affordable housing for local families and key workers in Wells and previous surveys in 2006 and 2011, showed exact numbers of people affected at the time.  These surveys also told us how many one-bed, two-bed and three-bed dwellings were needed. To win support for our new project, we must repeat the Housing Needs Survey, sent out to every household in and around Wells.  We ask residents and second home owners to complete this important survey and return the forms to us as soon as possible. The findings will be published on our website: http://www.homesforwells.co.uk

Previously, in the Quay magazine, we asked  if our more wealthy residents may consider donating their surplus winter fuel allowance to our Homes for Wells cause. One kind person has already pledged to do so, and we hope that, as in other parts of the country, other local winter fuel allowance recipients will join in helping us to house our young local people on low incomes who receive no such benefit. In a time of increasing homelessness, this would be a good Christmas present!

October 2017

Another month has passed us by, and here we are in early autumn,  It has been a busy and successful year for Homes for Wells and as ever we are hugely reliant not only on our office staff but also on our willing unpaid volunteers both on the board, and co-opted helpers. We wish to sincerely thank all of them for the amazing job that they do.

We particularly wish to offer our profound thanks to our long-standing chair, Lynn Watson, who has been with Homes for Wells for 12 years and has reached the end of her term. Lynn has worked unstintingly and her enthusiasm, wide knowledge and skills will be very much missed. We wish her every success and hope that she will enjoy a very well earned rest and many more Africa trips.  Lynn and her husband Alex, have been great contributors to Wells in the many years they lived here and we feel sure that they are already joining productively in the Ely community, where they now live. Thank you Lynn

September 2017

Homes for Wells Policy regarding the proposed sale of Wanderers, Jolly Sailor Yard.

Following a review of our affordable rental housing properties, the Homes for Wells Board, have reluctantly decided to put the above property on the market for sale. This decision was only taken after considerable discussion and in full appreciation of the fact that the property was inherited from the late Frank Dye to be used for housing local people. At the time we received this most generous gift, Homes for Wells was given the option of receiving the property, Wanderers, or the proceeds of sale thereof. Indeed, the Dye family were considering buying the property from the estate.

Homes for Wells took the property and have been letting this 2/3 bedroom property since 2012. However, it has become clear that, although this is a most attractive period property in a delightful situation, with views of the harbour, it is not particularly what our young local families are looking for, in that it has no garden, and car parking in Jolly Sailor Yard can be a problem in the summer season.

The board has therefore decided to sell the property, and, in due course to invest in a replacement property more suited to the needs of our applicants.

The board feels it is very important to continue to recognise this most generous gift of Frank Dye in perpetuity, and have considered naming any replacement property, either Wanderers, or Frank Dye House or something similar. We welcome suggestions for the appropriate memorial to Frank. It has been suggested that a plaque or an engraved stone tablet, mounted on the replacement house would be suitable.

July 2017

It is this time of year, that Wells becomes once again very popular. With the high prices of the Towns property and the large numbers of holiday and second homes, we can only appreciate how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place. Homes for Wells was set up to house key workers with a proven connection to the Town, because it is so difficult for people to find secure homes in the Town, this then has a knock on effect leaving limited volunteers for the Lifeboat, Fire Brigade, and other local services, services which are vital to Wells.

Homes for Wells in a non –profit organisation and runs on the incomes generated from existing rentals, grants, loans and donations. Recently we received a donation of a signed original picture by the renowned local artist John Tuck, We are very grateful to Simon Wainwright and his family who have just donated ‘Barge arriving by Coaster’
With kind permission from our Patron Lady Leicester, The picture will be displayed for viewing in The Gift Shop at Holkham, Homes for Wells will be holding a closed bid auction for the painting. If you would like to make a bid for the picture please send your best and final offer all with your contact details in a sealed envelope to Homes For Wells, The Sackhouse, Jicklings Yard, Wells next the sea, NR23 1AU before the 31st of August.
Currently we have some vacancies for Board Members and we need people with the right skills, who will carry on the work that has been such a success to date. If you feel you can give time and have experience which can be utilised for the benefit of Wells, please do get in touch.

Homes for Wells, The Sackhouse, Jicklings Yard, Wells-next-the-Sea. Norfolk NR23 1AU. tel: 01328 711703. Email office@homesforwells.co.uk

June 2017

Since its launch in 2006 The Board of Homes for Wells has worked hard to secure affordable properties for the essential workers, volunteers and local people with a connection to the Town. Affordable housing in a Town like Wells with such a high percentage of houses being used as holiday homes, is vital to keep the Community alive and be able to provide the essential services that are required. With the joy of Celebrating over 10 Years of success, the Society has provided homes to many families, comes the realisation that many of the Board Members have made such a commitment for the same amount of time and therefore are looking to step down from their role. The Society became a Registered Provider of Social Housing in 2014 and Homes for Wells’ constitution uses the National Housing Federation Rules. The Board have adopted the National Housing Federation Code of Governance and Code of Conduct. Currently the Board consists of 8 Volunteers who meet 6 times a year. All Board members are affiliated to a Sub – Committee of their choice, Finance, Housing and Development, Fundraising and Allocations. If you would be interested in joining the team then please do contact the office in the Sackhouse, where either Claire or Kady will be happy to let you have more information, the office is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9-3.  01328 711703 email office@homesforwells.co.uk

Once again on Carnival Day we will be raffling off our famous Barrel of Booze, we would like to thank all those who have donated bottles so far but we still need more, if you have anything to donate big or small  then do please pop into the office or send us a message

May 2017

At our latest Board Meeting we were delighted to welcome our new Patron, Lady Leicester, who since agreeing to take on the role has shown great enthusiasm for our cause. We would like to extend our gratitude to Lady Leicester on attending, it was a pleasure to introduce you to our Board of Volunteers and be able to take the opportunity to explain the day to day running of the society.

Lynn Watson Chair said "2017 has begun extremely positivity for Homes for Wells and with potential new projects developing at this time Homes for Wells is going from strength to strength."

Sue Turner recently celebrated a special birthday by holding a party at Wells sailing club, instead of gifts Sue very generously requested donations to be made to Homes for Wells, a total of £300 was raised including gift aid and for this we would like to say a very big thank you to Sue for supporting us. Donations and fundraising are extremely important to Homes for Wells to ensure the smooth day to day running of the Society and in turn helps us to secure the future of affordable housing in the town. If you would like to make a donation or hold an event in aid of Homes for Wells please do get in contact with the office and we will do all that we can to support your event, we have donation boxes and gift aid forms if required.

A big thank you also to all the people who have donated bottles for our planned Carnival events, again please do contact the office if you have any unwanted bottles, we would be very grateful

April 2017

We have a winner of our Food for Thought competition which was held over the last few months, Jenny Starkie from Derbyshire has won a meal for 2 at The Golden Fleece – congratulations to Jenny and a big thank you to the Fleece for donating such a fantastic prize! The quiz sheets, which were sold around the town, raised £120 in total, many thanks to all those who took part.

The Fundraising Committee are now looking ahead to future events and are collecting bottles, bottles of anything from beer to spirits to wine, for our now famous Barrel of Booze competition. If any of you lovely people have any Christmas bottles left... all donations will be gratefully received. Annie Golding, Chair of Fundraising, said “All fundraising helps Homes for Wells in it's efforts to provide affordable secure housing for local people".

 Expanding our housing stock is very important as the decrease in the availability of homes is forever growing due to the popularity of our thriving town.   Future housing projects are very necessary as the application list is continually increasing.

Bottles can be dropped off anytime at The Picnic Hut, Staithe Street or Tues and Thursday between 9am-3pm at the HFW Office in the Sackhouse.

March 2017

It is hard to believe that it is two years since the conversion of The Old School was completed and families started moving in. Whilst we were carrying out the annual property reviews at the Old School, it gave us real pleasure to see such a nice community of new homes here in Wells, and available to Wells people.

We are pleased to see that recent media reports have indicated that the Government will be putting a real focus on providing more secure affordable rental housing as well as right to buy homes. In the Autumn Statement it was noted that a white paper is to be published stating that the government will relax restrictions on grant funding to allow providers to deliver a mix of homes for affordable rent and low cost ownership, to meet the housing needs of people in different circumstances and at different stages of their lives.  They particularly acknowledge that with current property prices, some couples may never be able to afford to buy and need good quality rental homes.  This welcome initiative comes at such a crucial time for so many, when it has also been reported that rents have increased by 8.8 % in East Anglia in the last year.  Whilst Homes for Wells are regulated by the Homes and Community Agency, we are proud to offer 6 year secure tenancies with an affordable rent linked to the Local Housing Allowance.

Turning to other matters, the Food and Drink quiz has now ended and all in all raised over £100.00.  The winner receives a meal for 2 voucher, Many thanks to our Chair of Fundraising Annie Golding and her team for arranging the quiz and for circulating the mini beach hut donation boxes.  Whilst the quiz has finished, the Beach Huts are still located around the Town and all donations are very welcome, and also ring fenced, to aid us in continuing to provide affordable rental housing in Wells and area.

January 2107

Homes for Wells finished on  a high with the 10th Anniversary Celebration in December and the very successful Christmas Tide.  We now start 2017 on another high with the announcement that the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk and Lady Leicester have both agreed to become patrons of Homes for Wells.  We’re very pleased that they have accepted these roles and their experience and enthusiasm will no doubt be of a great advantage to Homes for Wells.

We also welcome a new Administrative Assistant, Kady Riches who will be working in the office with Claire, our Administrator, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings to help with our ever increasing workload.

2016 proved to be yet another challenging and rewarding year for Homes for Wells inasmuch as we were able to offer two bedroomed  accommodation to one family with two children and another one bedroom apartment to a single person.  Both applicants had a very long term associations with either Wells or the surrounding area, an important factor in the selection of tenants. However, sadly, we still have an ever-increasing application list consisting of 28 applications. Broken down this results in 18 couples/single people requiring 1 bed accommodation, 6 families with children needing 2 bed housing and 4 families needing 3 bedroomed  accommodation. Quite a list!!   6 of these applications are from keyworkers  but all applicants have strong local connections and all need secure rented accommodation which is what Homes for Wells offers.

The need is obviously still great, more funds, more grants,  legacies are required for Homes for Wells to increase its housing stock thus enabling it to continue to provide affordable, secure local homes for local people.

November 2016

The Board of Homes for Wells and Ben Hunter Watts the generalmanager at The Victoria, Holkham, met on Thursday 10th of November to draw the winner of the Virtual Brick Campaign.This is the second year the draw has been held bringing the total raised to nearly £4000.00. Thanks to the generosity of the Holkham Estate, each Virtual brick bought gave the purchaser a chance to win a weekend at The Victoria Inn at Holkham including a three course dinner and bottle of wine on each eveningevening. This year’s lucky winner Simon Wainwright from Wells said “I am always delighted to support the valuable work Homes for Wells carries out and I am extremely happy to have won this wonderful prize”. Annie Golding Chair of Fundraising will be circulating a new quiz “Food for Thought” so look out for them around the town. All correct entries will be entered into a draw to win a great prize.

With Christmas now fast approaching we would like to wish everybody a very Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year. Homes for Wells are always looking for new opportunities so watch this space for news of our 2017 plans ………..

October 2016

Always a great way to start the working day when cheques for Homes for Wells arrive in the post.  We have been fortunate to receive a £250 donation from the ladies of the Women's Institute who kindly organised a Strawberry Tea - thank you to all concerned.  We would also like to thank the Wells' Pensioners Group who also gave us a donation on behalf of their speaker. All Donations are ring-fenced and are used entirely to fulfil the objectives of providing Affordable Housing for local people and key workers, on low incomes.

It is always good to know that we are still being supported by the local community.  If you are a member of a local organisation and would like to know more about how we work, then please do get in touch as we would be more than happy to come and speak with you. But in the meantime here are a few Homes for Wells facts you may not know,
Homes for Wells registered to become a Housing Association in 2014 in order to receive a grant of £410,000 from the Government funded Housing & Communities Agency and £150,000 from North Norfolk District Council to help in the purchase and conversion of the Old School.  Together with a loan from Resonance of £250,000 and the balance raised by Homes for Wells from the local community, the final project cost was £1.6 Million.

On having become a Registered Provider of social housing we are highly regulated and have recently been given a clean bill of Health from the Auditors - all good news. 
Homes for Wells are one of the smallest Housing Associations in the country,currently housing seventeen families, employing one part- time member of staff working alongside a Board of 8 volunteers. 

Following the AGM on21st September Annie Golding, recently elected as a Board member, was voted Chair of Fundraising - quite a daunting task as we shall be having an unveiling of the Plaque at the Old School by the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk and we will also be celebrating our 10 year anniversary. (Date to be confirmed) Help is always needed with these events and anyoffers should be directed to the office and will be very gratefully received. 

Virtual Bricks are still available to buy, the leaflets can be found around the Town at the Homes for Wells Office and from the website Click here to Download. On the 4th November the campaign comes to an end with the Grand Draw and announcement of the winner of the weekend break at the Holkham Victoria which has very kindly been donated again by the Holkham Estate.

September 2016

Figures from Shelter show that eight million people live from one pay cheque to the next – they are one month away from not being able to pay their rent or mortgage - our working poor are living on a financial precipice. The housing situation in our country and our region is unlikely to improve. Many of the properties in our town are sold as second homes and holiday lets, binging in the tourists but the shops, hotels and services need an increasing amount of staff.  With zero hours’ contracts and only the minimum wage it is almost impossible for our young families and key workers to find a home.  Our list increasing. To keep the town viable more properties are needed to rent to key workers at affordable rents, more than ever our local people need your support, government and grant funding has dried up so if you haven’t done so already please help us and Buy a Virtual Brick (with a fantastic prize of a weekend at the Victoria Inn, Holkham) or remember us in your will, or make a donation.

You can download the leaflet and application form from our website or pop in to the office in the Sackhouse, Jicklings Yard NR23 1AU Mon 9.30-5pm, Tues 9-3pm or Thursday 9-5pm. Also look out for our jolly beach hut collection boxes, your small change soon adds up. If you would like to volunteer, please get in touch.

Many thanks to the retailers of Wells, Cellar by the Quay, Co-operative, Kinsley and Leftley’s who supported Homes for Wells with generous gifts of alcohol for the Carnival raffle, to the Board who worked so hard on the day and Gilly Cook whose masterplan and essentials helped the day go swimmingly. With your support we raised over £300.

August 2016

Out of the Box

Thinking out of the box is not something everyone does. People that think out of the box are considered creative, imaginative, arty, or more negatively, plain bonkers.Challenging times and big ambitionsoftenspawn creative thinking, such as war and space travel.  Camouflage, for example, was invented not merely to hide the presence of soldiers in various terrains, but entire fleets of ships.  The marine artist Norman Wilkinson invented this dazzle camouflage and the Norfolk artist, Edward Seago, worked extensively on camouflage during WW11. George De Mestral, a Swiss gentleman, whenout walking his dog, noticed burrs stuck to his dog’s fur and later developed hook-loop fabric fasteners we call Velcro.

This year the Turner Prize has been won by a group of inventive young people called Assemble. For those of you not familiar with the Turner Prize it is the plaudit that gives the general public the most to puzzle over when it comes to art. Leaving that aside, what is interesting about the 2016 winners is that they are a collective that do very imaginative things with buildings. Buildings that have been abandoned, neglected or fallen out of favour.Recently they gave a talk in the Forum Norwich about the Cairns Street affordable housing project.

10 Houses on Cairns Street
Assemble areworking with the Granby Four Streets CLT to refurbish 10 derelict terraced houses in Toxteth, Liverpool.

Residents reclaimed and planted their streets, painted the empty houses, organized a thriving monthly market and founded a Community Land Trust. Assemble have worked with them to translate their resourceful and DIY attitude into the refurbishment of housing, helping the CLT provide affordable housing for local residents that remains in community ownership. The houses use simple & low cost materials and include a number of playful, handmade architectural elements that help re-establish the character of the homes following their long neglect.www.assemblestudio.co.uk ©

Assemble find uses for all sorts of buildings, like turning disused petrol stations into cinemas. They embark on just this sort of project that inspires and benefits the local community and that Homes for Wells, now in its 10th Anniversary Year, also champions. The energy, zeal and the sheer hard– graft required is demanding, but creative out of the box thinking already provides 17 homes for the people ofWells and with your help, Homes for Wells can do more. Grants for housing have all but disappeared and here at HfW we are applying some out of the box thinking of our own… so watch this space!

  • Pop your change in the Homes for Wells Beach Hut boxes
  • Please contribute to the Buy a Virtual Brick competition
  • Support us on Carnival Day
  • Leave a living legacy
  • Volunteer your time and energy to our worthwhile cause

We still need donations of wine and booze for the wheelbarrow of booze. You may leave them at the office - hours Mon 9.30-5pm Tues 9-3pm Thurs 9-5pm. Or drop them at the Tourist Information Office on Staithe Street.

July 2016

Feeling hot or not?

So far flaming June has been anything but, although the occasionally sunny day and balmy evening have reminded me of the true summers of the past, when the coast was toast and the sand so scorched that we danced the hot–foot fandango all the way to the cooling sea.  There is still time I suppose, although the summer equinox (the longest day) is upon us as I write; how can we have arrived in the middle of this year so quickly?
At Homes for Wells we are immensely grateful to the benefactors whose generosity support our work. Owners of the Globe, Stephen and Antonia Bournes, leased gratis an ex– local authority property to Homes for Wells and paid for the renovations. It houses a local family raised in the same street, which gives a lovely circular continuity to family life. You can make a difference in a modest way by Buying a Virtual Brick (look out for our leaflets or download from our website) with a fabulous prize a weekend for two staying at the VictoriaInn, Holkham.  Or you could put any spare change in one of the Homes for Wells beach hut donation boxes on the counters of local stores. Donations large and/or small are welcomed and taken together they can have a life–changing impact on a local family.

I notice that the work of Homes for Wells, in providing local homes for local people, is being replicated in Cornwall. One of the first things that struck me when I came to work for HfWlast January, was what a marvellous template for community housing the Homes for Wells model is.While I cannot guarantee that inspiration from HfW was the catalyst, I read with interest about a new scheme in Cornwall where celebrities and second home owners are being encouraged to donate a week’s peak season rent to the Cornwall Community Foundation and a total of £38,000 has already been donated, some by celebrities such as Gordon Ramsey and Alex Polizzi. The press has rather rudely named it a ‘Guilt Tax’ which is typically headline grabbing and mean–spirited whendonating a month’s peak rent seems like a marvellous way of ensuring that local people can remain local and coastal communities can continue to thrive.

We would like to congratulate our Old School tenants for their polished performance on BBC Radio Norfolk over the Scottish Power billing debacle. It is remarkable what a local MP (Norman Lamb) and press intervention can do to wake up a slumbering energy giant. I think we have some talented tenants who could easily become radio presenters!
The popular Wheelbarrow of Booze is back and will be raffled on Carnival Day. Your donations of bottles of alcohol can be delivered either to the Homes for Wells office in the Sackhouse on Tuesday or Thursday between 9am and 5pm or to the Tourist Information Centre on Staithe Street open daily 10-4pm.

June 2016

What are they up to?

The Cornish resort of St Ives made national headlines recently when more than 80% of voters agreed to ban the sale of new homes to non-residents, in an effort to keep affordable properties for local people. Vacant homes are making headlines, not only in seaside resorts and areas of outstanding beauty, but also in some of the most expensive areas of London. High end properties are a safe haven by foreign investors who neither live in them nor rent them; they merely wait for them to appreciate in value – effectively a bricks and mortar bank. Whole areas of prime real-estate remain dark all year round and where once cafes and shops thrived, there is a ghostly emptiness. This has had the effect of waking up our London-centric government and there are moves afoot to insist that properties are lived in for a minimum period each year. The trouble started when property began to be seen as an investment. If you have accumulated wealth in an unstable country, then you will look for a secure investment in acity like London. Closer to home, the villagers of Burnham Thorpe are dismayed by the granting of planning permission for 6 expensive properties likely to sell to second home owners. (Chris Bishop EDP 2.05.16). In St Ives properties are typically 18 times the national average (Josh Noble - Financial Times 6.05.2016) where the parish of St Ives has a target of 50% new affordable homes. Many second home owners in Norfolk later become residents who contribute a great deal to the community, and tourism in Wells sustains the local economy. Affordable homes need building in areas with a shop, a school, employment and a daily bus service - the loss of rural transport is a huge barrier to sustainable living. Balance is the key; second homes owners have a lot to contribute, but local people need housing. Perhaps forming an alliance of communities affected by swathes of dark houses will help to find a creative solution to this pressing housing issue. The St Ives vote has started a national debate and that can only be a good thing.

Volunteering opportunities: we need help on our prize stall on Carnival Day (Sat 6th August) do get in touch 01328 711703 or pop in to the office on Tuesday or Thursday and speak to Claire or Patricia.

The Buy a Virtual Brick competition leaflet is also available to download directly from our website.Click to download

May 2016

Did you Know?

Did you know that the UK has the highest number of volunteers in the world and that volunteering dates back to medieval times? Like anything else volunteering has gone through its fashions and stages, in the 1960’s it was a way to keep gangs of youths from fighting, in the 1970’s it was an appendage to Social Services. Volunteering is sometimes re-named by governments and given a new title such as, Active Citizenship, Civil Society and the Big Society. Whatever you choose to call it 27% of the adult population volunteer once a month for up to three hours and 40%have volunteered in the previous year — impressive statistics. There is even an organisation called ASDAN which runs nationally approved and accredited courses for volunteers that can be a stepping stone to employment www.asdan.org.uk/courses.Volunteering is good for us, it develops numerous skills such as team working, communication, adaptability and flexibility. It increases our sense of self–worth, improves organisational skills and, more importantly, it builds confidence and self–esteem.
Fundraising is vital to the continuation of the work of Home for Wells and in the coming months I will be putting a fundraising team together. If you are interested or have experience in campaigning, marketing, PR or fundraising ideas, Homes for Wells are looking for enthusiastic people who have a little time to spare. It will be fun and a great way to meet people, get out and make new friends. So either pop in to the office for an informal chat or email:patricia@homesforwells.co.uk or ring on 01328 711703. Office hours are 9–5pm Tuesday and Thursday. The Sackhouse, Jicklings Yard, Staithe Street, Wells–next–the–Sea. NR23 1AU.
Watch out for the new Buy a Virtual Brick leaflets available from The Sackhouse, Wells Tourist Information Centre and various pubs in the area.

April 2016

Figure this – Statistics to Conjure with.

Recently, three of the Homes for Wells team attended the Norfolk Rural Support Network Seminar in Syderstone. Entitled Rural Crisis in Housing – The Way Forward?  The key issues probably won’t come as a surprise to the residents of North Norfolk; under supply and lack affordability in the housing market and a workforce that is frequently employed in casual/seasonal work on zero–hours contracts.

This statistical comparison between Norfolk and England was part of the presentation by Steve Cheshire of the Norfolk Citizens Advice Bureau, and may surprise you.

 

  • Percentage of second homes on the Norfolk coastal fringe          60%
  • Percentage of housing stock second homes (Norfolk)                 14.9%
  • National percentage of second homes (England)                         4.3%     
  • Residents over 60 years of age (Norfolk)                                    23%  
  • National average age residents over 60 years (England)             16.3%
  • Income in excess of 60K per year                                             11.5%
  • Income of less than 20K per year                                              51%
  • Attending the CAB earning under £1000 per month                     55%
  • Average price of rental accommodation in this region                  £786 per month
  • Number of residents in fuel poverty                                           41,200
  • Number homeless, or on the verge of being homeless                 20%

 

There was a phrase used by the Citizens Advice Bureau that caught in my throat — unsustainable lives — what a sad description of the plight of so many families.

On the plus side, we have 103 residents per kilometre as compared to 407 per kilometre in England, so we all have room to breathe and enjoy those vast skies, our beautiful coastline and rolling countryside.

So you can see that the work of Homes for Wells, in providing affordable homes for local people and key workers, is desperately needed. Every contribution, no matter how small, goes towards housing the people who are the community of Wells. Look out for our new Buy a Virtual Brick leaflets where you can enter our competition and get a chance to win a wonderful weekend at The Victoria, Holkham. We are grateful to all our donors and benefactors, many of whom are second home owners themselves.

We have a special occasion, the celebration of our 10th Anniversary, this autumn and we are looking for help from anyone with PR or fundraising experience. Please contact me, Patricia Mullin, at the Homes for Wells Office 01328 711703 or email office@homesforwells.co.uk

December 2015

Homes for Wells would like to thank all those who have supported them throughout the year, 2015 has been a pinnacle year for the Society with the completion of The Old School and managing so many other accomplishments. 2016 is the 10th Anniversary of Homes for Wells so another exciting year awaits. Please note the office is closed until Tuesday 5th January 2015, please do email office@homesforwells.co.uk or leave a message 01328 711703. Merry Christmas!

 

November 2015

Homes for Wells were delighted to draw the winner of their Buy a virtual Brick campaign. 

On the 10th of November. The draw took place at the Homes for Wells office and the lucky winner Mrs Hannah from Berkshire, was picked by Annie Golding and daughter Aoife, being Homes for Wells' latest tenants housed in the town which means so much to them. Annie said “We are so pleased to have our new family home to raise our daughter, I have lived in Wells all my life and to have the security of an affordable home is so reassuring”. Annie who runs the Picnic Hut on Staithe Street and partner Martin who is a fisherman out of Wells harbour have recently moved into a 2 bedroom cottage on a secure tenancy of 5 years.Homes for Wells have been selling virtual bricks to raise money to help them develop affordable homes to rent to local people. Thanks to generosity of the Holkham Estate, each brick bought gave the purchaser a chance to win a weekend at The Victoria Inn at Holkham including a three course dinner and bottle of wine on both evenings. Mrs Hannah was on holiday in Wells when she decided to purchase the Victual Bricks. The Hannah family have been visiting Wells next the Sea for the last 27 years and thought this would be a wonderful way to give something back to the Town and as a thank you for the wonderful holidays they have year on year.David Horton-Fawkes, Holkham’s Estates Director commented “We’re delighted to support Homes for Wells and I promise to make sure the deserving winner has a wonderful weekend at the Vic”.The Campaign has raised £2500.00 which is ring fenced for the benefit of existing tenants and future projects. Homes for Wells Board member Marcus French said “The money raised by the brick campaign will be the building blocks for properties for keyworkers and those with a local connection to Wells to have affordable secure homes, Homes for Wells relies on local support to be able to continue the work we do.  The campaign has raised more than anticipated, no doubt to the generous prize from Holkham Estate and for this we are extremely grateful

October 2015

Homes for Wells will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2016. The way in which the society operates has had to change over the years to keep up to date with various regulations and its general rapid growth and development. Currently, Homes for Wells has 66 shareholders, 9 Board members and 5 Co-opted members, all of these members are volunteers with various roles and responsibilities. All Board members and Co- opted members have to be shareholders and are affiliated to a sub-committee - Allocations, Finance, Housing and Development, Governance and Public Relations. If you would like to become a Shareholder, have a have a skill which you think will benefit Homes for Wells, or a general interest in the work Homes for Wells carries out then please do get in touch.

October 2015

Homes for Wells are still lobbying to ensure small rural housing associations are exempt from the Right to Buy. The following information has been received from Henry Bellingham, M.P. For our neighboring constituency. He writes, " As far as the proposed amendments are concerned, I would imagine that the government are probably going to bring forward a number(of amendments to the Housing Act) at both committee and report stages as the Bill goes through both Houses and from what I am hearing, they will be in line with what you ( that is HfW) want to see." We are hopeful that HfW will be exempt from Right to Buy and will keep you posted.

October 2015

Thank you to Wells Carnival Committee who have continued their support of the work carried out by Homes for Wells. A £250.00 donation has been received for the benefit of the Tenants, this will be put on the agenda of the next Tenants Association meeting which will be held on the 2nd of December.

October 2015

The Plaque which was awarded to Homes for Wells.

 

October 2015

Following the AGM Homes for Wells are pleased to introduce 2 new Board memebers, Geoff Finkemeyer and Christine Abel. Geoff has been a Co-opted member of the Allocations Commitee for some time and has now taken the role of Chair of the Alloccations commitee. Geoff’s career spans 35 years in the corporate sector.His role has included financial and company directorships.  

Christine Abel was born in the West Country and moved to Wells, in 1970.  Her two children were born here and attended the primary school in Wells.  Christine was Clerk to the Wells Harbour Commissioners from 1974 to 1994 and became the first woman Harbour Commissioner in Wells.  She completed her law degree at UEA and her law finals in London, and then joined local law firm Hayes and Storr, where she worked as a solicitor, from 1994 onwards in the property and private client departments.  She became a partner of Hayes and Storr in 2001 and then subsequently became head of the private client department, which spread over five offices.  She retired from the law in 2012, and has enjoyed the freedom to garden, travel and spend time with her grandchildren since then.  Christine has joined the Board of Homes for Wells and the Allocations Sub-Committee.

October 2015

Homes for Wells are looking for Co-ordinator, based here in Wells-next-the-Sea. 15 hours per week, (occasional evening work) £15 per hour. Responsible to the Homes for Wells Trustees and liaising with the administrator, voluntary & community groups, statutory & public bodies, individuals & businesses. For a full job description please contact Homes for Wells, 01328 711703 – email office@homesforwells.co.uk. Application / CV to be received by 20th November please.

October 2015

A local family took up the tenacy of the recently renovated Campden Cottage on Freeman Street. 

September 2015

Homes for Wells held their AGM on the 23rd of September.The past year has been an extremely busy but rewarding year for Homes for Wells.  The ‘jewel in the crown’ was without doubt the completion of the conversion of the Old School into 11 new homes for local people. This was a huge undertaking for such a small group of individuals with vision and determination. Homes for Wells now have 16 properties and houses 25 adults, 8 keyworkers and 18 children. All Homes for Wells properties are now fully occupied. Board Members, Gilly Cook, Julia Wildin and Fiona McCullum, having contributed much time and effort to HfW, have retired. Fiona will though be staying on the Allocations Commitee as a co-opted member, We are extremly grateful to them all.  However we are pleased to welcome Geoff Finkemeyer, who has been a co-opted member of the Allocations committee onto the Board and we also are pleased that Christine Abel has also joined the Board of HfW.

September 2015

We are delighted to have also been awarded the CPRE ASKHAM Award for creative and sympathetic use of land or buildings.

Photo Credit Julia Holland

September 2015

Homes for Wells are extremely pleased to have been awarded a Highly Commended certificate at the Graham Allen Award for Design and Conservation held at the North Norfolk District Council Offices together with the People's Choice award

August 2015

The fundraising team had another busy summer, raffling Olafs and Minions kindly donated by Perry Underwood. The barrow of Booze attracted much attention. The Buy an Brick campaign is still running strong with the prize of a weekend for two at the Victoria in Holkham being drawn on 10th November.

August 2015

Homes for Wells started a petion apposing the extention of Right to Buy for Housing Asscociations.

If you would like to join our campaign, please write to your MP, write to Brandon Lewis, Minister of State for Housing and Planning and sign the online petition by copying and pasting this address you’re your browser: http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-right-to-buy-for-housing-associations

July 2015

The renovation on Campden Cottage in Freeman Street and is now ready to re- let.

July 2015

The first tenants association meeting was held at The Sackhouse. This is an oppertunity for tenants to meet each other and represatives of The Board. This was a very positive meeting where the tenants were able to share ideas and concerns. The next meeting will take place in October. 

June 2015

An evening of art and wine  at Cellar by the Quay in aid of Homes for Wells.

 

June 2015

"Fantastic news!The Old School has been entered for the Askham Award, a special accolade within the Campaign to Protect Rural England Norfolk Awards. This award looks for projects which show, for example, a creative and imaginative approach to revival and regeneration and sensitive development of brownfield sites and/or featuring under-utilised buildings. Wish us luck!!The Askham Award for Creative Use of Existing Land or Buildings <http://dmtrk.com/16RU-38Z3B-6EGOAW-1IIDKJ-1/c.aspx>"

 

June 2015

Smart new sign for The Old School

10 May 2015

 Leftleys of Wells donate £1000 to Homes for Wells

Nigel Leftley presents HfW Chair Lynn Watson with a cheque for £1000 to support our work. Leftleys is a member of the Nisa group of independent retailers who run a scheme where 1p from each own-brand product purchased in-store is donated to a local organisation and Leftleys chose Homes for Wells - for the second time!!  Thank you Leftleys for your support and thank you all you lovely local shoppers!

 

April 2015

'Buy a Brick' - win a weekend at The Vic!!

Our new fundraising campaign has launched. Each virtual 'brick' bought enters you in the draw for a fabulous weekend at The Vic at Holkham including a three course dinner and a bottle of wine.  Bricks are available from £5 to £100 or you can donate via JustGiving at www.justgiving.com/homesforwells or text HOFW15 and the amount of your choice to 70070.  Leaflets are available from the Sackhouse, TIC and at various local pubs.  Help us build on the success of the Old School - there is still much to do!!

 

29 March 2015

Old School features on cover of the Quay magazine

HfW is delighted to make the cover of this month's Quay magazine - celebrating the Quay's 10th anniversary

9 February 2015

Moving in day!

Monday dawned bright and dry - perfect for moving house! Eager tenants began calling at the HfW office first thing for their keys and welcome packs.  Lots of tired but happy people at the Old School tonight.  Lynn and everyone at HfW would like to wish all tenants great joy and happiness in their new homes.

 

8 February 2015

Old School Open Day - did you find your initials on the loo wall??

Around 170 people came to view the Old School apartments on Sunday.  Former pupils mixed with excited new tenants.  There was much reminiscing and Chris Beale was on hand with a show of photographs charting the school from its Victorian inception through Field Study Centre days to the its current glory as a superb example of how to make a conversion really work - from a school to 10 fabulous new affordable homes for local keyworkers and their families.  Former pupil John Tuck is shown below with Homes for Wells board members, Gilly Cook and Julia Wildin.  Lorna Kirk - also a former pupil who was very keen to see the changes - said "It's really lovely: spacious, light and airy and the building still looks as handsome as ever!”.

 

30 January 2015

Handover of keys to Old School

Keys to our ten new apartments were handed over today.  Completed on schedule and ready to move into!!

Left to right: Marcus French (HfW) Geoff Lane and Chris Buckingham (Pentaco), Lynn Watson (Chair, HfW) Steve Tuck (Housing Manager HfW), Daniel Key (QS, Richard Utting Associates)

30 January 2015

Old School Development

 

 

A short film by Marcus French showing how the conversion of the Old School took place

23 January 2015

Open Day at Old School - come and take a peek

Open Day Poster

We are proud to announce the forthcoming completion of the Old School conversion.  A number of apartments will be open for a brief viewing on Sunday 8 February 10-12noon.  Come and join us - see what your support has helped us achieve.  Sorry, no under 16s or dogs permitted.  See you there!

 

21 January 2015

 Big thanks to Pat and Mike

Huge thank you from HfW to Wells builders Pat Weston and Mike Briggs.  Pat has provided the concrete base for new benches and Mike the concrete base for the Eurobins at the Old School.  Fantastic generosity - top blokes!

 

20 January 2015

Future Projects - what happens next?

Things continue apace at HfW and the Old School is very nearly finished.  We have other projects in hand too.  Campden Cottage is to be renovated and the Caretaker's Cottage at the Old School is to be refurbished ready for occupation. 

 

10 January 2015

Success of Old School Preview

Nearly 70 guests - including Norman Lamb MP and Councillors Tom Fitzpatrick of NNDC and Marie Strong of NCC - enjoyed a brief tour of the Old School on Saturday.  Our contractors worked hard to have three apartments tidy enough to view but one guest remarked "When you said it was a building site, you really meant it! I thought you meant it was just a bit untidy!".  Despite the constraints, our guests were very impressed with the quality of the conversion of this special Grade II building.  The guests included major donors and supporters of HfW,  who love Wells as it is and, as some have second properties here, want to put something back into this thriving and very special community.  The preview was featured in on ITV Anglia, on Radio Norfolk, in the EDP and Fakenham and Wells Times.  Exciting times indeed.

 

23 December

Christmas holidays!!

Our Sackhouse office is now closed until 9am on Monday 5 January.  Tenants, please contact Steve Tuck in emergencies.  Wishing all tenants, supporters and soon to be tenants a very Merry Christmas!

13th December

Tenants get first look at Old School

 

On Saturday morning we were delighted to show prospective tenants around the homes they have been offered at The Old School.  An exciting day for all concerned.  Tenants were thrilled to have a first peek at their homes and were  particularly impressed by the light and space.

Emily West (24) so loved her apartment with its high ceilings that she signed on the spot!  Emily's job as a Support Worker with Young People with Learning Difficulties means working shifts so being able to stay in Wells will make life so much easier and she will be able to stay close to her family.   Dad is well known local builder, Ray. 

Young couple Anna and Peter are expecting their first child in April.  After 8 years living with Anna's parents, the couple are thrilled to be offered a two bedroom apartment and were happily working out where their furniture would go.  Peter, who cooks crabs, and Anna, dinner lady and chef at Ollie's, report being "over the moon" with their new home.  "2015 will be our year" said Peter.

HfW are proud and pleased to finally be at this happy stage and wish all our tenants much joy in their new homes.

11th November

Cashmere Sale !

 

7th November

New property in Westfield Avenue - another affordable home in Wells!

Homes for Wells is delighted to announce that a property in Westfield Avenue has been made available for letting to a local family at an affordable rent with all the proceeds going back into Homes for Wells. Stephen and Antonia Bournes, who own and run The Globe Inn on The Buttlands, have purchased the property and are making it available to tenants of Homes for Wells for a period of ten years. The Bournes’ were drawn to the town not simply because of the beauty of this coast, but because this is a vibrant, working town and by making this property available they will help a Wells’ young family stay part of the community.

 

Stephen Bournes said "Both Antonia and I believe in the strength of family and community and this is a great opportunity to maintain those values in Wells and help support young families."

 

Homes for Wells thank Stephen and Antonia for their generous support. It is hoped that tenants of this property will be able to move in by the New Year.

6th November

Allocations process for Old School 

Offer letters have been sent out to successful applicants as per the published timeline. We are very encouraged by the interest in The Old School and disappointed that we cannot accommodate more at this time. A busy time is ahead with viewings-we are still on track for tenants to start the moving process in February.

4th November

The Old School floor plans

 A view of the floor plan of The Old School.

 

22nd October

Songs from the shows

Please join us for an evening of entertainment with the wonderful Liz Dark.

15th October

Old School development – FAQs

What will be on the floors?

Polyflor throughout kitchen/living area and bathroom. Unfortunately our budget does not allow for flooring of hallways and bedrooms.  All floor finishes, covered or uncovered, comply with Housing Association standards.

Will blinds be provided?

Tenants will be responsible for providing and fitting their own blinds/curtains.

Appliances – what will be provided?

No white goods at all. There will be space in each unit for: upright fridge/freezer, washing machine and standard sized cooker.

What paint finishes will there be?

All units will be decorated with the same neutral colour throughout.

Will there be showers fitted in the bathrooms?

Over bath showers will be fitted in all properties.

What provision will be made for refuse and recycling bins? 

Approximately three large refuse/recycling bins will be provided for tenants' use in a communal location; no individual bins.

How will moving in be managed?

To be notified. No decision made as yet.

Can we view before making a final decision? 

Individual viewings will take place during mid/end of November when the site has been designated as safe.

What provision has been made for parking?  How many spaces?

There will be one allocated space per unit.

What happens if we have visitors?

Provision has been made for some visitor spaces; otherwise parking will be on the road.

Will I have my own front door?

Yes, each dwelling has its own door.

You will see from the responses above that we are trying hard to achieve the best we can on a tight budget.  More questions have been asked and we are in the process of finding out the answers to them.  Please email Homes for Wells or contact us via Facebook or Twitter with your queries; we will do our best to answer them.

OCTOBER 2014

HfW an example of Best Practice

The Old School development has been chosen as an exemplar by the Government's Rural Housing Advisory Group - in other words, this is how to do it!
RHAG representatives today filmed at the site in order to feature HfW in an event later this month which will share best practice in the delivery of affordable housing in rural areas across the country.  RHAG were very impressed with the development, making special mention of the space available and the location. Old School is particularly remarkable as a re-development rather than a new build.  HfW is delighted to have been selected for this accolade.
 
HfW Chair Lynn Watson with Old School Site Manager Chris Buckingham
 
RHAG members Becky Ashley and Georges Droogmans with HfW Board Members
 
 

 

1st October

Homes for Wells - A good example of rural housing developments!

The HCA (Homes and Communities Agency) have nominated Homes for Wells to The Government’s Rural Advisory Group as an excellent example of Rural Housing developments. The Old School project is a fine example on why these projects are crucial for local communities.  

 

13th August

Fun with fundraising!

During Carnival week Homes for Wells were able to raise £1200 on the Bring and Buy Stalls, plus £863.00 on Carnival Day. This would not have been possible without all those who helped or contributes raffle prizes, barrow of sweets and bric a brac to whom we would like to extend a huge thank you.

  

30th July

The Old School

School is definitely not out for summer! No time off for our hard-working contractors at The Old School!

Update from the work on Polka Road.

The trees lining the drive have been professionally thinned and pollarded,  the beautiful old roof tiles are being faithfully put back with the original Victorian design and inside the Old School  a maze of stud walls are up delineating the new homes… Up to 14 builders are daily hard at work making certain that the building schedule at The Old School remains firmly on track and we can report the completion of the first fix stage.

Duncan Marshall-Andrew, Board member for the building committee, is very proud of extremely high spec which is being used throughout this project, now well underway, to create ten 1 to 3 bed new units within The Old School building and a smart separate home from the caretaker’s old house.  Duncan points out the thick insulation packs being used throughout, to make sure essential sound insulation is in place between the units.  This insulation, together with the myriad lines of pipes already in place under floors and along walls, will ensure that each home is built to withstand our cold winter months. “This insulation will help to keep people’s heating bills down,” he said.

 “We are coming across all the normal problems which one expects on any project, but overall the scheme is going really very well indeed.”   Duncan has underlined that the progress is largely due to the generous initial financial support from some of the town’s latest arrivals.    

What are your memories of Wells’ first school? If you were a pupil there and would like to share memories and even pictures about what life was like in this lovely old building years ago, then we would love to hear from you by email, Facebook or Twitter!

Property Allocations Timeline

Proposed timeline for the allocation of properties at The Old School                       

August 2014 

Allocations Committee draw up provisional allocations with reserve list.

August/September 2014
Letters to applicants stating they are being provisionally considered for allocation of a property at the Old School, references will be taken up and a visit made by housing manager. 

October 2014
Confirm allocations to prospective tenants

November 2014
Tenants view properties and accept or decline

December 2014
Sign contracts

End January 2015
Full occupancy

Please note that the timeline maybe subject to change.

New Housing Agent

Steve Tuck

We are pleased to announce that Steve Tuck has returned to Homes for Wells as a housing agent. Steve was involved in Homes for Wells for many years before concentrating on other voluntary work in the Town. Steve’s main role will be liaising with tenants and ensuring the any queries can be dealt with quickly and efficiently. 

Tenant Survey

 

‘It is really important that Wells’ current thriving community is maintained,’ according to a recent survey of  Homes for Wells tenants.

The families and individuals who are the HfW tenants are at the heart of everything the housing association does, so it is really important to note the results of a recent survey into their current opinions and feelings about their homes, about HfW and about the way Wells as a town is going. The survey certainly met with some strong responses.

In general, tenants are pleased with the way problems and repairs at their homes are resolved. They are certainly very happy to have affordable homes in the town where they have always lived and where it is important to them to see their children grow up.  “It has helped me stay in the town and raise my family, if it was not for HfW I would still be living with my Mum,” said one.

Everyone is cautiously welcoming the development of The Old School. While there is clear delight that such a fantastic project could be organised, tenants want to see the homes go to people who really need them and there is uncertainty about the unfamiliar arrangement being made for communal rather than individual gardens.

There is however a very strong and unanimous feeling that our lovely fishing town must maintain its balanced community and while newcomers are warmly welcomed, everyone is keen for homes to be available to the all important key workers in the town

All the HfW tenants warn against the place losing its locals and say the solution is to provide more family homes and make life easier to everyone by providing a free car park.

Since its launch in 2006, Homes for Wells has worked hard to create enough affordable properties for the essential workers, volunteers and local people who have a proven connection to the town.  Over 30 families have so far been housed.

Please let us know how you think we can all work together to maintain Wells as a thriving town for local people.