On Thursday 5 January I was invited by the trustees of Heron Educational Foundation to an open day to look around their community led housing scheme in Humbleton. It was a hive of activity as they put the final touches to the home before local families moved in that weekend.
Matthew Hayler, a trustee of Heron Educational Foundation, showed me around the scheme of six affordable-rent homes, which are a mix of new build and homes created from existing school buildings originally built in 1878. They are the first affordable homes to be built in the village for over 50 years.
The school closed in 1959, but was used as a community building until around 2010. In 2021, the trustees agreed to convert the unused school buildings into homes for affordable rent by local people, and build the two new homes in the same area. As well as giving the old school buildings a new lease of life, the project has created some much-needed accommodation for the village as well as benefitting the wider community. With the homes enabling young families to stay in the area, the village school is getting new pupils, and the new residents will support community activities such as the local cricket team.
One young single mum described it as ‘changing her life’, as she now has support from her parents, who live locally, to help with childcare and she will be able to support them when they need it.
Heron Educational Foundation support children living in the parish of Humbleton and surrounding villages of Flinton and Fitling, with grants when starting primary, secondary and tertiary education as well as those who are completing an apprenticeship or vocational course. It also provides community facilities and open spaces for the village. The homes were developed using a mix of community housing fund, the Foundation’s own assets, commuted sums and a private finance loan. The rent from the homes will generate income for the Foundation to use to help young people reach their potential for many years to come.
While the project encountered some hurdles, the trustees agreed that the support from the community led housing officer, Peter Hirschfeld and RHE David Siddle was immeasurable. They urged any community thinking of taking on a similar project to do so, saying that any community can do this but it’s not a ‘walk in the park’, so communities should reach out to their community led housing hub for support.
Their next project will be to create the new Pavillion at the open space in the village.
The current trustees are Mrs Diana Hoskins, Mr Francis Caley, Mr Chris Brazier, Mrs Marion Riley, Mr Matthew Havler and Miss Freyja Dudley.
Group Development Lead, Community Led Homes North Yorkshire & East Riding