New affordable homes opened by High Sheriff of Leicestershire
"I never dreamt I would be opening a scheme like this. Fortnam Close looks absolutely wonderful and the new families living here, I hope, will be very happy."
Gordon Arthur, High Sheriff of Leicestershire
Twenty-three brand new affordable homes have been unveiled by the High Sheriff of Leicestershire at a ceremonial opening event in Thringstone.
Developed by emh group, the £2.8 million scheme has been christened Fortnam Close in memory of Able Seaman John Fortnam, a much-loved local resident who died in the First World War. The development is made up of a combination of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom units and offers a mix of shared ownership and affordable rent options.
Fortnam Close can be found on the site of the former Fox Inn, a derelict public house that had not seen a pint pulled for many years. Planning applications sailed through with full support from the local community, happy in the knowledge that the site widely regarded as an eyesore was finally to be transformed.
Funded by a combination of Social Housing Grant, the North West Leicestershire Enabling Grant, and emh group finance, the development is part of a wider programme to tackle the demand for affordable homes in the East Midlands.
Chan Kataria, Chief Executive of emh group, said: “Fortnam Close is a high quality, considerately designed scheme to provide much needed affordable homes for rent and shared ownership. It is testament to the strong partnership between emh group, North West Leicestershire District Council, and Westleigh that we have been able to develop this scheme as part of a wider strategy to regenerate local sites, provide affordable homes for those who need them the most, and breathe new life into communities.”
All properties are constructed with timber frames, a designated Modern Method of Construction, and meet Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3, ensuring a high build quality and low running costs for residents.
The development was designed by rg+p architects, alongside quantity surveyors Summers Inman and contractors Westleigh. Fortnam Close is now fully occupied by local people in need of affordable rents, or for those who want to get the first foot on the housing ladder through shared ownership.
Born in 1899 in Thringstone, the muse for the new development name lived very close to the Fox Inn, and his son lived directly opposite – hence the strong family connection. John Fortnam worked at Whitwick Colliery before joining the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve. He was killed at the age of just 19, while serving on The Hawke.
Gordon Arthur, High Sheriff of Leicestershire, said: “I never dreamt I would be opening a scheme like this. Fortnam Close looks absolutely wonderful and the new families living here, I hope, will be very happy.”
Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire, said: “The country is facing a housing shortage and schemes on brownfield sites like this really are fantastic. My ambition is to prove that affordable housing doesn’t have to mean inferior design, and Fortnam Close is a perfect example of that. emh group has built a number of fantastic houses here, but as well as that, they’ve also built a community.”
Councillor Roger Bayliss, the housing portfolio holder for North West Leicestershire District Council, said: “The naming of the site in memory of John Fortnam is a fitting tribute to a local hero still fondly remembered here in Thringstone. As a council, we have some difficult financial decisions ahead of us, but affordable housing will always be needed, and I will always be happy to find further excellent solutions to the shortage like this scheme developed by emh group.”
Gary Turner, head of partnerships and investment at Westleigh, said: “Fortnam Close is one of many projects which Westleigh and emh group have built together. It is testament to our strong partnership and shared end goal to bring good quality affordable homes to people across the East Midlands. With dozens more in the pipeline across the region, we hope this will be a partnership that lasts for many years to come.”