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Shaping housing for generations to come

Angela Lockwood, CEO of North Star Housing, asks: What will the new Teesside look like?

The decisions we make today make a crucial difference to the lives of generations to come, so it’s imperative we provide homes that reflect the diverse and changing needs of our communities.

The population is ageing. The fastest growing age cohort between 2012 and 2032 is the over 75s, who are projected by the ONS to grow by 3.5m to 8.5m.

There will be strong demand for older persons housing in many shapes and forms with more integrated generational communities. We will look at building “lifetime” homes, whereby properties can be easily adapted to meet the changing needs of people as they age.

Currently almost half of 25 to 34 year olds are renting privately, and it is projected that in 10 years only 39% of 25 year olds are likely to buy their own home. This will lead to strong demand for modern homes for younger and more mobile people in some locations.

Building more flexible and innovative homes – like our Urban Pioneers live/work properties in Midlehaven – will help shape suitable housing for a young, dynamic future generation.

The environment and access to high quality facilities and amenities is increasingly important and will play a critical role in determining where new housing should be built. There will be a need for homes that are more connected to shared places, which are flexible and possibly more modular.

They will need to be safe and secure at a reasonable price to provide our children with a place to grow up.

Cohousing, which is very popular in Scandinavian countries  and emerging in the UK, may take a on a life of its own. Cohousing communities are intentional communities, created and run by their residents. Each household has a self-contained, private home as well as shared community space. Residents come together to manage their community, share activities, and regularly eat together. Cohousing is a way of resolving the isolation many people experience today, recreating the neighbourly support of the past. This can happen anywhere, in a street or starting a new community using empty homes or building new. Cohousing communities can be inter-generational, welcoming anyone of any age and any family structure, or specifically cater for people who are older or are communities of common interest.

In addition, the need to regenerate some of the urban cores will continue to be required with innovative solutions, similar to the thinking around Gresham in Middlesbrough. Housing Associations have a strong role to play in partnership with Local Authorities and the Combined Authority.

And finally, regional devolution will shift the rules governing housing to create more flexibility and diversity of provision.

Commitment to investment

With more than 4,000 rented houses, North Star is hugely committed to the area and has ambitious plans to invest in the housing of the future.

North Star aims to build around 300 high quality homes, mainly for rent, over the next five years. Not only will these properties look good, they will be highly efficient and low maintenance.

North Star’s development plans will see investment of over 30m into new housing across the Tees Valley. Not only will the focus be on providing good quality rented homes for families, there will also be continuing drive to develop desirable homes for older people.

North Star’s growth strategy aims to ensure that its homes and neighbourhoods are well designed to reflect the changing needs of society. An example of this can be seen at the new ¬£2.1m development scheme on Raleigh Road in Stockton. These 11 new affordable bungalows for rent will be designed to support residents as they age, with wheelchair accessibility and flexible space throughout. The new bungalows, partly funded by the Homes and Communities Agency, are due to be completed by May 2018.

Further to North Star’s commitment to provide a range of affordable and accessible homes across the Tees Valley, plans are also underway for a prestigious ¬£750,000 development of 27 new homes in Middleton St George. This new scheme in Darlington will see North Star build six bungalows for affordable rent and shared ownership.

Emma Speight, Executive Director of Assets and Growth at North Star, said: “We need a range of housing across the Tees Valley. New housing and its surrounding infrastructure should reflect the demographic changes across the area. Our future growth plans aspire to provide affordable, sustainable homes that support the diverse needs of our communities.

“Our new homes in Stockton and Middleton St George are designed to a high quality, which are well equipped with good space standards for future flexibility. The aim is to design homes that meet people’s needs and aspirations throughout their lives, giving them a more independent, comfortable and secure future.”

Read the full Invest in Teesside article here.