Published: 12:18, 22 July 2021
| Updated: 12:20, 22 July 2021
The first tenants have moved into the borough's latest development of council-owned homes.
Cllr Jenny Wallace, Gravesham council’s cabinet member for housing services, handed over the keys to the first tenants at Admiral Beatty House, in Whitehill Road, Gravesend, this week.
The development is made up of 12 one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom apartments, all with a terrace or balcony.
There is also a cycle store, infrastructure in place for electric vehicle charging points, a secure children’s play area and a communal garden.
Cllr Wallace said: “We promised to build hundreds of new council-owned homes for those on our housing register, and Admiral Beatty House on the site of the old Tenants’ Association Hall is the latest example of that.
“We have a local lettings plan in place to ensure priority for these apartments is given to existing social housing tenants, freeing up their current homes for those on the waiting list.
“And more new council-owned homes are on the way. Work has already started on a development of seven bungalows and a new children’s play area at Constable Road and Rembrandt Drive in Gravesend.”
Plans are also in place for 16 two and seven one-bed apartments – including one wheelchair-ready home – at Bishop’s Court, St Patrick’s Gardens, Gravesend. Again, the development will include a new secure playground, and infrastructure for electric vehicle charging points.
Michael Lewis, who is moving to Admiral Beatty House from Gravesham Court, said: "I've been a council tenant for many years and I'm really excited about moving in to my new place. The rooms are bright and the finish is lovely.
“There's a fantastic piece of shared garden for the residents to enjoy and an area for the kids too. My daughter will love it.
“I'm really grateful to be able to be given the opportunity to move in to Admiral Beatty House, very happy.”
Cllr Wallace added: “We are working as hard as we can to provide modern, climate change-friendly, new homes for local people on our housing register, which has been updated recently to ensure those most in need have priority as the completed projects open.
“I am sure residents of Admiral Beatty House will enjoy their new lives here and I look forward to seeing future developments open and new communities form.”
An updated application for the site at Constable Road and Rembrandt Drive, Gravesend, was considered by the council at a meeting last night.
As part of the plans, six garages in Rembrandt Drive would be demolished to make room for the scheme, with one wheelchair accessible bungalow being built in Rembrandt Drive. A further six one-bedroom bungalows would be built in Constable Road.
Planning permission has previously been granted for the development, but the council asked the committee for permission to move the position of the bungalow in Rembrandt Drive to ensure access is maintained for existing residents while the new development is built.
That amendment was approved.
Cllr John Burden, Leader of Gravesham council, said: “In response to our consultation during the drafting of the council’s Corporate Plan, local people were clear that they wanted us to build more council-owned homes. We are doing that at pace.
“We are ensuring they provide a real mix of accommodation suitable for tenants of all ages and families of all sizes.”
The plans for the Rembrandt Drive/Constable Road development include improvements to the green space at the site, including a new play area and a programme of tree planting.
But some open space will disappear.
Cllr Burden added: “To build the new homes so badly needed by local people in an already built-up area, it is sometimes unfortunately necessary to make use of some small areas of open space.
People were clear that they wanted us to build more council-owned homes. We are doing that at pace
“This new development will by necessity take in around a third of the Constable Road open space. However, we will be making significant improvements to the remainder for the enjoyment of both current and future residents, including installing a new children’s play area and a programme of tree planting.”
Cllr Burden added that the plans for Constable Road and Rembrandt Drive, and other developments in the pipeline, would have a direct and positive impact on the numbers of those waiting for council-owned homes in the borough.
He said: “We have recently carried out a review of our housing register to ensure those on it are local people who are the most in need of a council-owned home.
“Now we are pressing ahead with our plans to build properties they will be proud to call home.”