Northumberland coastal communities team up to deliver much-needed affordable home through £75,000 renovation project

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A much-needed affordable home has been created on the Northumberland coast – and there will be no issue with noisy neighbours.

A disused property at Spitalford Cemetery, which is jointly owned by the parish councils of Embleton, Craster and Newton-by-the-Sea, has been refurbished in a £75,000 project.

Gatehouse Cottage, as it will now be known, will be made available for social rent through the Northumberland Homefinder service.

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"We’re very pleased and proud of it,” said Andrew Chillingsworth, a member of the Embleton Joint Burial Committee (EJBC) which undertook the project.

Gatehouse Cottage has been renovated to provide an affordable home for rent.Gatehouse Cottage has been renovated to provide an affordable home for rent.
Gatehouse Cottage has been renovated to provide an affordable home for rent.

The house had been unoccupied since the last cemetery caretaker left in March 2017 and the committee felt it could not be let to a new tenant without considerable renovation work.

They considered selling the house and received an offer from a buyer who wished to use it as a second home but had reservations about the sale of an asset, the loss of control of the use of the house which is within the cemetery and creating yet another holiday home.

"A lot of people are concerned about the number of four and five bedroom houses appearing up and down the coast so it’s nice to have this property refurbished and made available at affordable rent,” said Andrew.

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"It would be lovely if it could go to a family from one of the three parishes, or with some association with them.

The two bedroom detached home has been stripped back and rebuilt with a modern kitchen, new floorboards, insulation and a new boiler.

"We’ve removed the outside toilet too and put one inside which I’m sure will be appreciated by whoever moves in,” added Andrew. “And we expect the neighbours to be very quiet!”

A new water treatment works has also been installed under the garden.

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The works, carried out by local builder V M Dundas, were delayed slightly due to Covid-19 and difficulties sourcing materials but have now been finished.

The EJBC received a grant of nearly £50,000 from Northumberland County Council to fund the project and took out a £25,000 Public Works mortgage.

Repayments will be funded from the rental of the affordable home with any excess income used for its long-term maintenance.

Valuable assistance during the course of the two year project has been provided by Community Action Northumberland.

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Cllr Wendy Pattison, county councillor for Longhoughton ward, said: “It is vitally important in this particular area of Northumberland that local people, both individuals and families have access to stable, high quality, affordable rented housing.

“I feel incredibly proud at what three very small Longhoughton Division parish councils have achieved by working closely and harmoniously together, are, now able to offer a Community LED affordable home for a local family to benefit from and enjoy. This wonderful initiative can literally change lives.”

The property, formerly known as Cemetery House, has been in the ownership of EJBC since it was built in 1883.

An official opening ceremony complying with Covid-19 guidelines is planned before the new tenants move in.

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