A NEW development to provide affordable homes for families in the southern parishes of the Winchester district has been officially opened.

The scheme for 13 affordable homes at Phillimore Gardens in Shedfield, near Wickham, was completed through Winchester City Council’s role in the Hampshire Alliance for Rural Affordable Housing (HARAH).

An opening ceremony was carried out by council leader, Cllr Caroline Horrill, Mayor of Winchester Cllr Frank Pearson, and chairman of HARAH and the portfolio holder for the built environment, Cllr Caroline Brook.

All three live in or represent rural wards, Cllr Horrill in Sparsholt, the mayor in Swanmore and Cllr Brook in Denmead.

Cllr Horrill said: “There is a real issue in rural areas that local people are unable to afford to live in the places where they were bought up, work, or have strong family connections.

“However, we are working hard to solve this and one way is by working closely with HARAH and ensuring new developments like this are made possible.

“New rural affordable housing in the district is vital for creating sustainable and cohesive communities and that is why we are committed to finding an affordable housing scheme in every parish in the district.”

The land was provided by its previous owner who passed away, but wished ‘to help the younger generation in the village get on the property ladder’.

HARAH was set up to provide affordable housing in the villages of Hampshire and has provided 190 homes in rural locations in the Winchester district.

Cllr Brook said: “HARAH is a real success story for delivery of affordable homes in rural locations. The support of parish councils and local people to the HARAH is vital.

“The landowner who provided the land for these homes shared our vision for the delivery of rural affordable housing. I am so pleased that we have been able to fulfill this as a legacy to the family. We will continue to work tirelessly to bring forward schemes like this in other villages, to ensure that local people are able to remain in their villages and to support the local rural economies.”