Last week the Gazette brought you the news that the construction of Dacorum’s first new council homes in 25 years are just months away from being finished.
Now this website can bring you a video tour of the houses and flats as they appear now – and they’re due to go on the market before Christmas.
It is hoped that they will go some way to relieving a ‘chronic shortage of affordable housing’ in the area that was highlighted in a 2012 report.
Dacorum Borough Council is now hoping to build 400 homes by 2020 – which will be provided at low cost to those who need them.
Group manager for strategic housing Julia Hedger is spearheading the project.
She said: “All of the homes that I have been involved in are a legacy that are going to be here for some time for residents of this area.
“They are homes for people to grow up and then bring their families up in.”
A 41-bed homeless hostel in Redbourn Road, Hemel Hempstead, 26 homes in Farm Place, Northchurch, and nine in Galley Hill, Gadebridge, will be built in the project’s first phase. They will replace sites that used to be derelict and the work is expected to be completed by March.
All of the properties will meet excellent energy efficiency standards, allowing tenants to keep their energy bills to an absolute minimum.
There are now 8,500 people on the authority’s housing register – 4,500 of whom have a high housing need.
But only 400 or 500 new properties become available for them each year.
Ms Hedger said: “There has been a big increase in the number of tenants exercising the right to buy.
“They have lived here for a long time – grandparents or mothers and fathers might have been given a property when the new town was developed in the 60s. But those houses haven’t been replaced sufficiently enough, so there is just not enough housing in the Hemel area.”
The council’s development team will double in size in January – resulting in six staff dedicated to buying land and building affordable homes for the authority.
According to Dacorum Borough Council’s website, the average cost of renting one of its two-bedroom homes is just £370 per month – compared to £953 in the private sector.
The average house price in Dacorum is now £317,464 and the average first-time buyer is aged 31, according to figures on the website.
The Farm Place homes – between the High Street and Durrants Lane – will be made up of 12 one-bedroom and eight two-bedroom flats and six three-bedroom houses.
The Gadebridge development will provide nine two-bedroom flats on the site of the former St Peter’s Church.
The homeless hostel is being built where an empty, council-owned bungalow with a huge garden used to be.