Trust calls for homes help

Patsy Healey at West Mansfield House
Patsy Healey at West Mansfield House

A north Northumberland development trust is inviting the public to help fund affordable housing in one of the villages it serves.

Glendale Gateway Trust is buying the former Abbeyfields Home building off the High Street and will be acquiring part of the former Wheatsheaf Hotel on the High Street in Wooler.

When converted into flats, the two properties will provide nine affordable homes for rent.

The intention at this stage is to give priority to older people in the locality.

The Trust has negotiated a grant from the Homes and Communities Agency’s empty buildings programme which covers part of the cost.

It has also negotiated a bank loan, but wants to limit the amount borrowed at commercial rates by asking people to loan them money at zero interest rate.

“This exciting scheme achieves two important goals for the community”, said Trust chairman Patsy Healey.

“It helps with the severe shortage of homes for older people following the closure of Horsdonside last year.

“And it brings back into use iconic buildings at the heart of Wooler which have been standing empty.”

The Trust is asking people to loan it £1,000 in exchange for a Community Bond, which would be held for a minimum of three years.

It would then be redeemed when the owner wanted the money returned. Multiple bonds can be taken out.

Mrs Healey added: “You will get zero interest on your money, which is only slightly less than you are getting from your High Street bank at the moment.

“But what you will get is the satisfaction that you will be helping the local community in a very practical way.”

Both projects are subject to planning permission.

In the past, the Trust has been successful in getting grants to help pay for projects, but most of these sources of funding have dried up, which is why they are now asking for public support – something they have never done before.