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Marlene gets the keys to her new home

The first resident to move into a new affordable housing development in Cobridge, Stoke-on-Trent was officially handed her keys today.

Award-winning community champion, Marlene West, who is originally from London, has moved into the two-bedroom house on Hawthorne Street with her grown-up son.

The former national chair for the British Transport Police, who has also been involved with numerous housing and community groups over the years, is keen to use her experience in Stoke-on-Trent.

Marlene West said: “I was attracted to Stoke-on-Trent because of the investment being made into the city. I’m looking forward to meeting new people and I’m keen to help set up a tenants group for the development. It’s a lovely house and I can’t wait to settle in and make it my home.”

Another resident who has moved onto the development is new mum Emma Trow, who has also been allocated a council-owned property.  Twenty-eight-year-old Emma, who is currently on maternity leave, had been looking forward to moving into her new home after having been on the housing waiting list for around four months.

She said: “I’d been living with my parents in Tunstall for a while, and it was already really crowded – once I’d had my baby there was even less room. When I first viewed the property I fell in love with it straight away. It was all so fresh, and it's not every day you get offered a new-build property. The kitchen, upstairs bathroom and downstairs toilet were finished to a very high standard, meaning I could move in without having to decorate. And my son will be able to enjoy himself in the spacious garden as he grows up."

"At the viewing I was asked if I was interested, and of course I said yes. Within the hour I’d signed the contract and had my keys. I only had to sort my flooring out for the bedrooms and living room – the rest of the house was beautifully finished, meaning I could move in straight away.”

The £4.64m development of 37 semi-detached and terraced homes all for social rent, which is just a mile from the city centre, has been built by housing association, Your Housing Group, in partnership with Stoke-on-Trent City Council and with the support of Homes England. Designed and built by Wigan-based MCI, half the properties will be allocated to people on the city council’s housing waiting list, with the remaining let directly by Your Housing Group.

Lorraine Donnelly, Director of Development for Your Housing Group said: “We now have ten properties completed and it’s great to start seeing residents move into their new homes.  This is a lovely development, close to the centre of Stoke-on-Trent, benefiting from everything the city has to offer.”

Councillor Joanne Powell-Beckett, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for housing, said: “We welcome this development as part of a range of affordable housing options being made available in the city. There is a long waiting list of people looking for an affordable place to rent, and the offer at Grange Street will provide some much needed homes to consider.”

Your Housing Group became one of Homes England’s Strategic Partners earlier this year and they have part-funded this scheme. Nick Cumberland, Senior Specialist, Home Ownership and Supply for Homes England said: “We’re pleased to see these new affordable homes start to become a real neighbourhood as residents move in.

“Homes England’s strategic partnerships offer ambitious housing associations like Your Housing Group flexibility, funding certainty and the opportunity to respond more effectively to the changing housing needs of people locally.”

The whole development is planned to be completed this autumn.