Press Release for new homes on the old allotment site.

Crowland Parish Council has begun the occupation of eight chalet bungalows on the Abbey Farm estate in Crowland. This marks the final stage of a project, originally with Seagate, but subsequently taken on by Ashwood Homes, which will provide the Parish Council with its own rental properties on the old allotment site. The Parish Council has transferred the majority of the site off James Road, Crowland, to Ashwood in exchange for Ashwood building properties for the Parish Council on their retained part of the site. Ashwood are independently marketing the other homes that they are building on their acquired, major part, of the site. The Parish Council bungalows have been designed to suit the needs of older residents, with excellent accessibility, and arranged in an attractive communal setting overlooking the Snowden recreation field and Crowland Abbey. Residents will be renting the properties at competitive market rents, and the majority have already been let, with the first tenants due to move in this month. Crowland Parish Council made the strategic decision to invest in rental housing to improve the return on its capital assets, plus also satisfying the need for quality, age-relevant accessible rental housing in the town. This has been a long running project, capitalising on the opportunity to develop the old allotment site created in part by the construction of the new A16. This not only provided windfall capital from the compulsory purchase, for the A16, of some farmland owned by the Council, but it also created an “island” of farmland between the A16 and James Road that became suitable for other uses. The Parish Council’s investment in the relocation of the allotments onto part of that land facilitated the housing development on the vacated allotment site, while providing allotment tenants with some of the best allotment facilities in the region. Crowland Parish Council, January 2022

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Parish Council development classed as social housing?

   No; the bungalows have been constructed to a high specification suited to the needs of the target market, and are offered at competitive market rents. Social housing terms do not apply.

How will the Parish Council manage the letting and maintenance of the properties?

   We will not; we have invested in the properties, but have no day to day involvement in their management. Ark Properties of Spalding will be handling all aspects of the tenancies on our behalf.

Why did the Parish Council get involved in housing, that is usually the remit of the District Council?

   The Parish Council had land and cash assets that were earning very low returns. It was also facing increasing pressure on its day to day running costs and income that did not keep pace. Consequently revenue balances were under pressure and this was not sustainable long term without access to other income sources. Housing investment was chosen as it offered a safe low risk capital investment with reliable income opportunities.

Who will be allowed to occupy the properties?

   The bungalows are aimed at residents over 55, with some current or historic connection with the local community. Ark Properties will be vetting applications and try to select tenants based on these criteria. However, the Parish Council has no further influence on the selection process.

Why didn’t the Parish Council just sell the land and buy houses elsewhere?

   This would have been a simpler, and quicker, way of investing in houses. However, the type of properties that we wished to offer the important target market were not being built locally. Also, by negotiating the more complex deal that we did, we obtained greater value for the community, as we were able to obtain properties close to their construction cost rather than at their market price.

What will the Parish Council use the rental income for?

   The net rental income will be used in part to rebuild financial reserves initially. We will also need to build additional reserves for future maintenance and periodic refurbishment of the properties. After that, additional income will be available to allow the Parish Council to maintain and even expand the valued services it provides throughout the Parish. As the rental income is classed as “revenue” rather than capital, it can be used to pay for services as well as other capital purchases, unlike money that we could have obtained from a conventional sale of the land which could only be used for other capital investments

Published: Tuesday, 25th January 2022