Award-winning homes slammed as a ‘debacle’

The Mill Hill development at Chatton.
The Mill Hill development at Chatton.

The news of an award given to a north Northumberland housing development has been met with fury by parish councillors.

In June, the Gazette reported that Isos’ development of six affordable homes in Chatton had won the title for best social or affordable housing at LABC’s Northern Building Excellence Awards.

However, in a letter to the chief executive of Isos Housing, Tillside Parish Council said the accolade was ‘ironic’ as ‘the whole project has been a complete debacle of miscommunication and mistrust from beginning to end’.

Complaints listed included lack of allocation of homes to local people, building materials, community engagement and benefits, lack of use of local labour and overgrown shrubbery at the site.

But, as an Isos spokesman pointed out, not all of these issues relate to Isos, which is a housing provider, and some relate to discussions at the planning stage.

The spokesman said: “Our Mill Hill development in Chatton has provided six much-needed affordable homes in north Northumberland.

“We are proud of the development and the fact that it has won a prestigious LABC Award.

“The four bungalows and two family houses were all advertised on the Northumberland Homefinder website, and the allocation of the properties was governed by a Section 106 agreement specifying that local applicants in housing need would be prioritised. In the first instance, those from Tillside parish, then from surrounding parishes, and then from the wider Berwick district.

“No applicant from Tillside parish qualified to be allocated one of the properties, though we would have been delighted to let one to a local applicant if their circumstances allowed it.”

He added that their contractor, Esh Property Services, used natural stone, approved by council planners. Regarding the overgrown shrubs, he said that while no complaints had been received from residents, Isos has contacted Esh to ask that maintenance is carried out.