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Christchurch Lodge project progress

Last updated 31 July 2020

An innovative project that’s set to benefit homeless households and save taxpayers money is continuing to take shape in Ashford, with the work expected to be completed later this summer after a brief pause caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Ashford Borough Council bought the large disused home in Beaver Road for £430,000 and is investing around £500,000 to convert it into eight homes, capable of accommodating up to 25 people. A refurbishment programme has been underway since last autumn to add facilities like a communal kitchen, dining room and laundry room.

Christchurch Lodge follows the same blueprint adopted by the council when it created Christchurch House, a rundown property bought at auction for £278,000 in 2013. It was transformed into good quality short-stay accommodation and was so successful that the money saved on placing homeless people in costly B&Bs meant that Christchurch House payed for itself in four years.

Kent-based Jenner Contractors is carrying out the Christchurch Lodge conversion and a feature of the project is the commitment to using high-quality products and materials to ensure maximum build quality, environmental sustainability and energy efficiency. Jenner is also contracted to deliver Halstow Way, a scheme providing 17 units of general needs accommodation in South Ashford.

Work recommenced on the project in May after a four week halt and contractors are working to new social distancing guidelines on site. Jenner is proactively working with its supply chain and liaising with utility firms to progress the project in the most effective way.

A photo of Christchurch Lodge development

Jenner’s general works manager Michael Larnder said: “We have enjoyed excellent working relationships with the team at Ashford Borough Council for many years now. As a forward-thinking, progressive and proactive authority, we are proud to be working with them once again and playing our part in the ongoing regeneration of the town.”

Cllr Bill Barrett, portfolio holder for housing, said he was relieved that the project had recommenced because tackling homelessness remained a priority for the authority. He said both the prevention of homelessness and using the council’s own stock to house homeless people, rather than using paid-for nightly accommodation, made financial sense.

“Following the blueprint of Christchurch House represents a win-win strategy. For five years it has offered households a better solution than the upheaval of living out of a B&B. It is also good news that the council has saved considerable sums of money it would have had to pay in B&B costs. We are proud of the proactive approach we take to delivering new housing projects.”