Hightown Help: new developments in and around St Albans proving extremely successful


Oaklands - Credit: Archant

Hertfordshire housing association is proving popular amongst those looking to part-own

Hightown Praetorian & Churches Housing have had a successful year.

The association, operating principally in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, manage homes for nearly 5,000 families, single people and those with special needs; and thanks to the business growing from strength to strength, they look to add another 1,000 properties to their list by 2018.

One of this summer’s biggest success stories comes in the form of the Oaklands city centre site. Constructed on the land that used to house the Oaklands College campus, Hightown is providing a total of 43 new affordable homes for rent and shared ownership. The first nine apartments are complete, while a further three will be finished in late Autumn, followed by 31 apartments to be let to local people in early 2016 through the Council’s Choice Based Lettings Scheme. The idea behind the scheme is to help out the many families in St Albans struggling to afford rent or to buy their own home due to the current market rates in the area.

Singing Hightown’s praises are Luca Cusini and his son, Brian, 15, who are both deaf. They lost their home in February 2014 due to the breakdown of a personal relationship and relied on the shelter of a mobile home in St Albans in order to remain as close as possible to the school Brian attended for his condition.

Terrified at the prospect of having to take Brian out of the school, Hightown came to the rescue of the pair. They now enjoy an apartment at the Oaklands site, close to the city centre and Brian’s school - where he has been able to continue his education, crucial to his future.

Hightown received planning permission to build new homes on the site in 2013 and, in partnership with Nicholas King Homes, a mix of private, shared ownership and affordable rent properties have been built on this and various other sites around the county.

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One of these went to Herts local John Burgess, a plumber who actually worked on the development and helped construct it.

John, 26, was living in rented accommodation in Cheshunt – an area where property prices were out of his reach. He began to look into the shared ownership properties he’d help build in Clements Close, Puckeridge, and jumped at the opportunity. He now owns a 50 percent share in the brand new 2-bed apartment, located in an area of stunning Hertfordshire scenery.

John said: “I just love living here now – I couldn’t have asked for more. I want to save up so I can get 100 percent ownership as soon as I can.”

A spokesperson from Hightown said “we look forward to housing many more families in central St Albans over the coming year.”