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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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New housing hope for Keswick families

A Keswick family have had extra reason to celebrate this festive season.

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NEW HOME: Nicola Greenhow, partner Simon Raistrick and daughter Darcey have plenty to celebrate after moving into the Keswick Community Housing Trust project

A KESWICK family have had extra reason to celebrate this festive season.

Not only do Nicola Greenhow and Simon Raistrick have their daughter Darcey’s first birthday to look forward to on Sunday, but they will mark it in a brand new home.

They are among 11 families to have moved into The Hopes, the first development built by Keswick Community Housing Trust.

For Nicola and Simon, the development fulfilled an otherwise unachievable dream of living in an affordable family home in their home town.

Simon’s four-year-old son Daniel regularly stays with the couple but they were not entitled to a three-bedroom from a social landlord.

Until November they lived in a small two-bedroom cottage.

Nicola, 33, who works at Fitz Park Dental Practice, said: “If it wasn’t for Keswick Community Housing Trust we’d always have been there and it wasn’t big enough.

“All our family is in Keswick. It’s a lovely place to raise children. We don’t have a car. It was important that we always stayed in Keswick.

“It’s wonderful that we have got a place to call our own to celebrate Christmas and Darcey’s birthday.”

Also celebrating were Andrew and Sarah Thoburn, who have returned to Keswick with children Harry, three, and Lucy, five months, buying a shared ownership house.

The couple moved to Workington seven years ago because they could not afford to buy in Keswick.

Andrew, 32, said: “We were even priced out of some one-bedroom places.”

Sarah works at Keswick Superglaze and the family’s childcare is in the town, along with their relatives, so they were keen to move back.

Andrew even joined the board of Keswick Community Housing Trust, meaning he can continue to help other families return to or stay in the town.

He said: “It’s great to be back home. I’d like to thank Keswick Community Housing Trust for our opportunity and on behalf of the other 10 households as well.”

The Hopes was officially opened last week.

The project began more than four years ago through Churches Together in Keswick, which wanted to help address a lack of affordable housing.

Three years ago the charity Keswick Community Housing Trust was established.

It bought the site, which had been part of a graveyard extension but proved unsuitable for burial, from the Parish Church of Keswick St John.

Eleven three-bedroom houses were built off Castlehead Close.

One was sold outright to help fund the development, five have been sold under shared ownership and five have been let.

All 11 can only be occupied by people with direct links to the area.

The project was part funded by the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency, with support from local organisations, sales of community shares and a loan.

The name was chosen to reflect the hope the project has given to Keswick people.

But the trust’s work is not over. With about four families seeking each home available at The Hopes, it knows demand is still high for affordable, local housing.

It is negotiating over a larger, edge-of-town site where it wants to build 24 houses.

It also has an agreement in principle to built four two-bedroom houses behind Southey Street Methodist Church as part of a planned redevelopment.

Bill Bewley, trust chairman, said: “It would be wonderful if we could really make a difference. Eleven houses is a really good start but it’s only a start.”

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