Kendal Almshouse Charity – Romleigh Development
Noted Almshouse Site Redeveloped for a New Generation of Social Housing
With demand for social housing continuing to outstrip supply by a growing margin in the North West, Kendal Almshouse Charity is delighted to be able to confirm work has begun to double the units on one of its central sites in the town.
These will be eco-friendly, energy efficient units, for occupation by over 55s who are in housing need. Each dwelling will offer one bedroom, a bathroom, and open-plan living, kitchen, and dining area, with high thermal efficiency, air source heating and solar panels to generate electricity.
The new almshouses are being constructed on a site behind Kendal WWII Memorial Garden on Romney Road, originally owned by Kendal War Memorial Trust Fund but transferred to Kendal Almshouse Charity in 2014.
A bungalow, known as Romleigh, was built on the site in 1955 and occupied by the same family until 2019. When the bungalow was vacated, the Charity’s Trustees commissioned a number of specialists including us to explore options for upgrading and modernising the existing dwelling or redeveloping the site. As the building was unfit for habitation and the site offered the potential for more than one unit, it was concluded that the most appropriate and cost-effective solution was to demolish the existing bungalow and develop two one-bedroom bungalows on the site.
But the route to this commendable redevelopment has been blocked several times over the past three years by various obstacles and the tide of recent global events.
I have helped steer the project through the unusually frustrating process of development. This is such a worthwhile development that will benefit the Kendal community. It has been subject to some twists and turns that might have demoralised a different client, but the Charity’s Trustees were determined to see it through to fruition and we are delighted to have been able to help them to achieve their goal.
With the Charity’s cash reserves reduced significantly following flood damage sustained in Storm Desmond in December 2015, grant funding was essential for this project, and in February 2022, Kendal Almhouse Charity was awarded funding through the Community Led Homes Fund to assist with pre-development costs, including preparing tender documents and applying to Homes England for a grant under their Affordable Homes Programme.
However, initial tender prices came in much higher than expected as a result of increases in building costs. This forced the Charity to make some changes to the design to reduce the costs and apply for additional grant funding.
Fortunately, the Charity was successful in securing grant funding towards the project from Homes England and South Lakeland District Council (now Cumbria & Westmorland Council) earlier this year, enabling Trustees to proceed with this exciting project.
The Chair of Kendal Almshouse Charity, Peter Ducksbury, said “I am delighted to see the project get off the ground after a lot of hard work by many people, for which I am very grateful.”
Local builders, Fylde Joinery & Building Services Ltd, won the contract and are now making progress on site.
The new almshouses are expected to be completed around April 2024 and Kendal Almshouse Charity will be inviting applications from potential occupants nearer that time.
The Charity currently owns and manages a total of 41 almshouses in Kendal, some of them dating back to the 17th century, which are available for over 55s who comply with the Charity’s objectives as a registered social landlord. For more information about what an almshouse is and who is eligible to reside in one, go to https://www.kendalalmshousecharity.org.uk/