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Rentplus, the leading provider of affordable rent-to-buy homes, and their partner Harrow Churches Housing Association (HCHA) were delighted that the Mayor of Bicester was able to formally open the first rent-to-buy development in at Stratton Park, Bicester, and welcome the tenants to their brand new homes.

The event enabled the new residents of Flanders Close to meet their neighbours and celebrate the completion of their new homes, and included speeches from the Mayor of Bicester, Councillor Les Sibley, Councillor John Donaldson, Lead member for Housing (Cherwell DC), Chris Holley, HCHA CEO and Richard Connolly, Rentplus CEO, as well as a ribbon cutting ceremony to formally mark the occasion.

The ten newly built two bedroom homes were constructed by premier regional developer, Mulberry Developments, and forms part of the 125 unit Stratton Park development.

Through Rentplus’ unique model, the new tenants will have the opportunity to rent their homes at a below market affordable rent and save to buy their new homes in 5, 10, 15 or 20 years. When it comes to buy their home, Rentplus will gift them a 10% deposit to assist them with their purchase.  

Zoe Blomer is one of the new tenants who moved in with her partner and four month old baby. Zoe said: “Before moving into our new Rentplus home we were living in a two bedroom bungalow with my partner’s father. With so many of us in the house it was getting way too cramped and we really wanted a space of our own. To date, we’ve just not been able to afford getting onto the property ladder in the traditional way. 

“I first heard about Rentplus and their rent-to-buy homes through the council. As well as being affordable, the location really attracted me– it is so close to town and we have good schools right on our doorstep, which means that we won’t have to rely on public transport.

“We are aiming to buy our new home after 5 years. The affordable rent means that we are able to save at the same time so we will be able to put more towards the deposit than the 10% Rentplus will give us then. 

Richard Connolly, Rentplus CEO, said: “We are thrilled to be able to help Zoe and her family, and other families just like them, and are therefore delighted to be working with Cherwell District Council to bring more affordable housing to the local community. Rentplus has been set up to create opportunities for people on low incomes with little prospect of accessing affordable rented homes let alone to buy a home, to get a first step on the property ladder. This is why it’s so exciting to see this first development in Bicester – hopefully the first of many – as average house prices here are otherwise significantly beyond the reach of many hard working people.

“Our innovative model gives people who are just about managing the opportunity to fulfil their dreams of homeownership while offering them the safety and security of long term tenure and an affordable rent. 

“The success of schemes like this will allow us to expand our presence in Bicester, delivering more affordable homes for people like Zoe and her family.” 

Chris Holley, HCHA Chief Executive, said: “It is great to see the collaboration between Cherwell District Council, HCHA and Rentplus come to fruition. These new affordable homes will support working families in Bicester who aspire to own their own home but cannot currently do so. It was great to take time to welcome the new tenants to their new homes and celebrate taking their first crucial steps onto the property ladder.”

Rentplus see Oxfordshire as a target area for growth, and through the opening of the Flanders Close development hope to demonstrate how rent-to-buy homes have complemented Cherwell District Council’s strategic housing plans.

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