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Palmerston Heights development of 139 homes built to tackle Plymouth’s housing shortage

In a national first, Plymouth-based housing companies Persimmon Homes and Rentplus have signed an agreement to develop 19 new affordable rent-to-buy homes in Plymouth to help tackle the region’s housing shortage and help people into home ownership for the first time.

The properties are part of a 139 home development built by Persimmon Homes at William Prance Road, Derriford, as part of Plymouth City Council’s Get Plymouth Building programme. The first homes at Palmerston Heights are now complete and Rentplus is working with Tamar Housing Society to identify suitable tenants in need of an affordable rented home who aspire to buy their own home in the future.

The Rentplus homes are available at affordable rents (up to 80 per cent of local market rent) for an agreed period of between five and 20 years. Once the rental tenancy has finished, residents are given the opportunity to buy their Rentplus home and will be given a ten per cent deposit by Rentplus to do so.

Palmerston Heights is close to a historic 19th century fort and includes a mix of two, three and four-bed houses and one and two-bed flats available on the open market or through rent-to-buy and shared ownership schemes. An additional five social rented homes will be managed by local social landlord Tamar Housing Society.

The Rentplus homes will be marketed and allocated to households by Tamar Housing Society through Devon Home Choice housing register which enables local households to be considered for affordable housing which becomes available in the area.

Rentplus Chief Executive, Richard Connolly, said: “We are very happy to be partnering with Persimmon to bring 19 affordable rent-to-buy homes to Plymouth residents.

“With average house prices in the South West now close to £230,000 and in some places more than £300,000 and average earnings in the region among the lowest in England, we have an unbelievable housing situation where many houses cost more than ten times the average annual household income.

“Rentplus is designed to make housing accessible for all those who wish to own their own home and we look forward to working with partners in Plymouth and across the country to help tackle the housing crisis.”

Figures from the South West Housing Initiative show the region is the fastest-growing in the country, but has the nation's biggest regional housing crisis. A report from the National Housing Federation shows that private renters in the South West are spending 35 per cent of their earnings on rent – the third highest rent-to-income ratio in the country. A study in June 2013 found there were more than 10,000 households on Plymouth’s housing register, underlining the importance of building new homes in the region.

Julie Barnett, Chief Executive of Tamar Housing Society, said: “It is vital to provide affordable housing to those who need it most and these new homes go a long way towards helping to tackle the housing crisis we are currently seeing across the South West.

“At a time when social landlords across the country are facing cuts, companies like Rentplus are offering an alternative, sustainable opportunity for long-term tenancies and home ownership for residents without the need for any public subsidy.”

Rentplus is working in partnership with Plymouth City Council to deliver 500 homes over the next five years. The Rentplus model has been created by teams from developer Pillar Land Securities and housing association Tamar Housing Society. The Rentplus Board comprises senior figures from the world of business, including Chairman John Gildersleeve, who is also the Chairman of British Land. The company aims to build at least 5,000 homes across the UK by 2020.

Work on the Palmerston Heights development is expected to be complete by this time next year and the first Rentplus tenants are expected to move in by December 2015.

Rentplus is also working with Pillar Land Securities to develop a site of 29 homes at Manamead in Plymouth, including 13 Rentplus homes, which will be completed at the end of next year.

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