Outstanding” Home Ownership Scheme Wins National Award

A groundbreaking development of affordable housing and healthcare facilities has led to Aspire Housing winning a national award.

AHO_Awards certificateMill Rise, in Cross Heath, Newcastle-under-Lyme, helped Aspire Housing to win the “outstanding achievement in Central England and Wales” category of the Affordable Home Ownership Awards held in London on Thursday, 9 September.

The £17m development offers 60 apartments for older people, 20 of which are for shared ownership. Residents can receive 24 hour care and support on site if they need it and the complex includes a doctor’s surgery and pharmacy on site.

The award was one of four regional categories for England and Wales in the ceremony which recognises innovation and best practice in providing affordable home ownership.

Entrants had to show not only that they provided outstanding home ownership services, but also that their developments were contributing to local and regional priorities, promoted good design, helped local people and used innovative marketing.

Mill Rise was the first time shared ownership homes had been offered by Aspire Housing and all 20 homes sold within eight months of scheme completion, despite the recession and slump in the housing market.

The scheme has acted as a symbol of the regeneration of the Knutton and Cross Heath area, which had previously suffered from low demand and a high turnover of residents.

Mill Rise has complemented other regeneration in the area, including the building of new boundary walls and driveway improvements to older homes. In addition, young people from Aspire’s training company PM Training have been trained as apprentices while carrying out the improvement works.

Aspire Housing has also recently provided five homes for shared ownership at Halmerend, Newcastle, and is currently building a further 188 at three sites in Newcastle and Stoke-on-Trent, 75 of which will be for shared ownership.

Sinead Butters, chief executive of the Aspire Group, said: “For Aspire Housing to win this award with our first development of shared ownership homes against competition from much larger organisations shows the quality of what we have done at Mill Rise.

“It has proved tremendously popular, has allowed older people to buy their own home and has helped to transform a previously unpopular area. It was a complex project with many partners, and this award recognises the quality of what has been achieved.”

Mill Rise was developed by a partnership of eight organisations, including NHS North Staffordshire, Prima 200 – the company that is developing new and improved healthcare facilities in North Staffordshire, and Renew North Staffordshire, the housing market renewal pathfinder.

Councillor Robin Studd, cabinet member for planning and regeneration at Newcastle-under-Lyme borough council, said: “I’m delighted that the Mill Rise development has been announced as an example of best practice in the region.

“It’s an outstanding complex which gives older people an affordable way of owning their own home and increases choice.

“Residents are able to live full and independent lives while receiving the care that they need.

“The development is an example of partnership working at its very best and has helped to improve people’s quality of life.”

Dr Ann Pursey, Chief Executive of Prima 200, said: “This award is fantastic news and yet another recognition of the quality of Mill Rise, having won the Exemplar Award at Community Health Partnership’s LIFT Awards in July. It not only provides excellent affordable housing to meet the specialist needs of older people, but also gives residents onsite access to first class healthcare facilities at the new Lower Milehouse Primary Care Centre. The project is one of many great success stories of collaboration delivered by the Prima 200 LIFT programme.”

Mill Rise last year won two awards at the UK Over 50s Housing Awards. It is also shortlisted in the “housing for an ageing population” category of the 2010 Homes and Communities Agency Awards.

In addition, Aspire’s sister company PM Training is shortlisted in the “social enterprise” category of the Third Sector Excellence Awards.