Six families are looking forward to spending Christmas in their new homes following the completion of an affordable housing project on the Lizard Peninsula.

Actress Jenny Agutter, famous for the Railway Children and Call The Midwife among her long acting career, will now lead celebrations of the completion of new affordable homes for local families at Ruan Minor.

The six rented homes at Plain An Gwarry are the result of the hard work of a group of local volunteers on the Grade Ruan Community Land Trust and delivered by Cornwall Community Land Trust (CCLT), a local charity that encourages community-led solutions to housing needs.

As a result, people who were born and grew up in the village have now been able to afford to return.

The project is the product of nearly seven years of preparation, planning, securing finance and construction.

Each occupant was required to prove they have very strong links to the village. The lower than market rents must never be above the housing benefit/allowance level and tenants have greater security of tenure than most in the private rented sector.

Amie Gribble was born and brought up in the village, went to local schools and works as a care support worker in the NHS.

She had been living with her daughter in one room with relatives and said: “We’re so lucky. It’s a lovely and spacious home. Having the security of a home that can’t be taken from us is such a relief. It’s so good to be able to stay in the village I was born and brought up.”

Kerry-Ann Walsh is also delighted to be back in the village where she grew up.

 

Amie Gribble was born and brought up in Ruan Minor

Amie Gribble was born and brought up in Ruan Minor

 

She understands local housing problems as she is herself a former housing officer. She said: “We had been struggling in a cramped, damp chalet miles away. But it’s worth the wait. It’s just fantastic.

"It's amazing to have so much space. The children love it. It really feels like I’m back home when I can hear the Lizard foghorn! We feel lucky and very grateful.”

And fellow new tenant Bryher Trewin, who was also born and brought up in the village, said: "Settling into my new home at Plain An Gwarry has been an absolute dream.

"With the current housing crisis in Cornwall, I never expected to be able to live in my own home in the village I grew up in and yet here I am, ready for Christmas surrounded by my family and friends - I feel so blessed!"

The homes all have air-source heat pumps and not only accommodate local people but will provide a safe haven for wildlife too, with a 'hedgehog highway', bee poles, bat boxes, bird boxes and 'sparrow terrace' all featured in the designs.

Both the Grade Ruan trust and CCLT thanked the partners who made the project possible: Cornwall Council’s Affordable Homes Team, Homes England and Cornwall Community Foundation for their support and funding, Cathedral Builders for the quality of their work, the supportive neighbours including Ian Cox and Alan Pearce at Rozen furniture.

 

Kerry-Ann Walsh grew up in the village

Kerry-Ann Walsh grew up in the village

 

CCLT has had to put off a pre-Christmas face-to-face community celebration with Ms Agutter due to the growing concerns about Covid and will rearrange for later in the spring – mid April 2022.

Ms Agutter, who has close links with Ruan Minor all her life and has a home in the area, said: "This is welcome good news for our local community. At a time when housing problems have worsened it's encouraging to witness the success of a community finally delivering its own homes for locals project.

"Cornwall Community Land Trust and partners have overcome numerous obstacles to get these homes completed. Wonderful news for the six local families who will now enjoy their first Christmas in their new, secure, affordable home.

"And good news for local hedgehogs, bats, birds and bees who have accommodation provided as well!"

Paul Collins, chair of the Grade Ruan Community Land Trust, said the houses were the result of "determined voluntary teamwork."

He said: "It’s as well that the locals who came together at the start of the project were unaware just how much time and effort this project would take! But in truth, after seeing the outcome and the pleasure this has brought to those who now have a wonderful and secure affordable home, it’s been worth every minute.

"These are true community-led homes for locals forever. And we’re very grateful to Cornwall Community Land Trust for helping us every step of the way.”