School joins celebrations to mark neighbourhood’s transformation
The latest phase of a project that’s transformed a key area of Stafford has been marked with a special event involving a local school and community leaders.
Led by Stafford and Rural Homes (SARH), the town’s largest landlord, the Total Place project has driven the regeneration of Exeter Street and surrounding neighbourhoods with the extensive refurbishment of existing properties. The completion of 35 new homes at Silkmore Gardens marked the latest stage of the scheme that’s also seen a facelift for shops, providing a further boost for the community whilst improving the local environment.
SARH Chief Executive, Karen Armitage, explained: “The Silkmore Gardens scheme, which includes new homes in Blossom Gardens and Primrose Gardens, brings the total investment in the area to more than £10 million.
“When we launched Total Place in 2013 we set out to improve the lives of our customers and people living in the wider community, whilst creating employment opportunities in the construction industry and work for local contractors. It is fantastic to see this has been achieved.”
To mark the completion of the new homes, children from nearby Silkmore Primary Academy were asked to come up with names for the new streets and also collected items – including photographs, drawings and school memorabilia – for inclusion in a time capsule for future generations to enjoy.
At a ceremony to celebrate the success of the project, pupils from the school joined representatives from SARH, the local community and other organisations that have supported Total Place, including Stafford Borough Council and the Homes and Community Agency (HCA).
During the event, Silkmore Primary Academy Governor, Graham Cole, commented: “Since the start of the regeneration project we have really noticed a difference at the school. There has been more take-up of school places and, at the same time, results have improved.”
His sentiments were shared by Andrew Edwards, a resident of Exeter Street and Chairman of Penkside Community Champions, a voluntary group that helps tend local allotments, organises events and co-ordinates other neighbourhood activities.
“The area looks so much better, and people are really starting to feel proud of where they live,” he said. “We have seen the community grow, and the new look has lifted peoples’ spirits.”
Silkmore Gardens has seen the construction of a mix of two, three and four-bedroom houses as well as one and two-bedroom apartments. Built by the housing association’s construction partner on the project, Jessup, all have been made available for affordable rent to meet local housing needs.
Clive Jessup, Managing Director at Jessup, commented: “We are delighted to have worked with SARH on this exciting scheme. The project has demonstrated our partnership approach that has included accessing grant funding from the HCA.
“The construction of these energy efficient homes, which we’ve built in a traditional style, has also helped to further develop the skills for our apprentices whilst supporting the local supply chain.”
Karen added: “Without doubt, the completion of Silkmore Gardens represents a momentous achievement. What was once a wasteland with derelict garages is now the site of some beautiful new housing.”
Pictured: Karen Armitage, Chief Executive of SARH, Alison Hadden, Chair of SARH Group Board and Clive Jessup, Chief Executive of Jessup Brothers with Silkmore Primary Academy pupils Hadyn Anthony and Lacey Timmins.