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‘First spade in the ground’ heralds progress for Stourbridge eco-friendly affordable housing scheme

A ‘first spade in the ground’ ceremony is set to signal major progress for an innovative £1.5 million new housing scheme sparked by a call for action from a Stourbridge musician.

On Thursday September 8, VIP guests will gather to witness the important milestone ahead of the building of the new development on the site of the old Mayfield House in Enville Street.

The site of the 11 affordable apartments, with solar panels and ground source heat pumps, will also host an eye-catching ‘art installation’ with an affordable housing theme, from three local artists, David Johnson, known as DJ, Cal and Bob Teale, from Monday September 12th.

Building of the apartments is currently out for tender, with work planned to start in November and last for 18 months in partnership with Green Square Accord.

The new block of one and two-bedroom apartments will be rented out by Stourbridge Community Land Trust in perpetuity at 80% of local market rent.

It was first put forward five years ago when singer-songwriter Eddy Morton identified Stourbridge as place that could become a leader in affordable, energy efficient housing.

He organised an informal committee, which developed over two years into Stourbridge Community Development Trust, and in 2016 Eddy, owner of Katie Fitzgerald’s music and comedy venue, stepped up his research and plans, visiting various affordable housing schemes across the UK.

Working with colleague Anthony Hughes, The Stourbridge Community Development Trust put forward its Stourbridge PowerHaus Project in partnership with Accord Housing Association supported by West Midlands Urban Community Homes (wMUCH).

Eddy said: “The project will address the issues of affordability of rent and energy, climate change and the positive effects that can bring to the local economy. It has been a long journey.

“It started with conversations in Katie Fitzgerald’s about high rents for creatives and the issues of homelessness. People think of creatives as artists and musicians but it’s much wider than that. Creativity can mean anything from people working in IT to social media.”

Eco-friendly initiatives are also at the forefront of the development, aiming to lead a fight against climate change.

This will be the first car-free development in Stourbridge. It will also employ an innovative, infrared heating system called Wondrwall, combined with mechanical ventilation and high levels of insulation.

“The nature of this heating system reacts to people usage in the building so it is very cost effective and agile,” said Eddy.

He added: “We need to create more local economic opportunities for young people, particularly creatives, and key workers to keep them living in the town. There is also real housing need especially for affordable housing and to tackle homelessness.

“Now that our vision has become a reality, we are showing that taking positive action as a local community can bring change and I hope this will inspire others to take action and drive through their own solutions when communities are in need.”

  • The ‘ground-breaking’ event for the Powerhaus project will take place at 42 Enville Street at 10.15am on Thursday September 8. Attending will be Laura Shoaf from the West Midlands Combined Authority, Carl Taylor representing Green Square Accord, members of the Stourbridge CLT board, local councillor Cat Eccles, Nic Barlow from the Conservative party and Andi Mohr from the Green Party, emphasising the cross-party nature of this initiative.
  • There will also be an invite-only garden party celebration for supporters and organisers at Katie Fitzgerald’s on Sunday, September 11th.