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A major milestone in the regeneration of Gorse Ride in Finchampstead was celebrated last Thursday (30 November) with a topping out ceremony to mark the first 16 new houses in Phase 2A reaching their full construction height.

Wokingham Borough Deputy Mayor Cllr Adrian Mather was joined by representatives from the borough council, as well as contractors Wates and chair of the Gorse Ride Steering Group Steve Bowers to mark the occasion.

The Gorse Ride regeneration is one of Wokingham Borough Council’s flagship housing projects, which will see 249 new modern homes built on site, a massive 74 per cent of which will be affordable homes to meet growing, local demand. Four properties will be designed to accommodate the needs of people moving into the regenerated new homes, for example wheelchair accessible with level access shower facilities.

The new homes have been designed to be energy efficient with high levels of insulation and low carbon innovations, such as air source heat pumps to help reduce emissions and make them more affordable to heat. This helps tackle the fuel poverty crisis whilst helping to reduce the borough’s carbon footprint.

Residents who are moving into the houses in Phase 2A have recently been involved in choosing the internal fittings for their new homes, which includes work surfaces, kitchen units, carpets and flooring. Residents are looking forward to moving into the first new homes from spring 2024. Windows, doors and the staircases have all been installed, and the roofs are now in place.

Construction work continues over the next month, with foundations being laid for two apartment blocks, while electrical and mechanical works will continue in the first 16 homes. Part of Billing Avenue is set to be tarmacked and it will also reopen to Vicarage Close residents before the end of the year.

Deputy Borough Mayor Cllr Adrian Mather said: “It is great to celebrate this important milestone at Gorse Ride. It marks the final stages of work in the first 16 news homes, which are very much needed in our borough. These new homes will offer a great place for our residents and their families to live, learn, work and grow.”

Leader of the council and executive member for housing Cllr Stephen Conway said: “These new, high-quality homes will bring modern facilities for our tenants and it won’t be too long before some of them are moving in to their new homes.

“Affordable housing, which is good quality, is desperately needed in our borough and remains one of our priorities. And the development is also environmentally sustainable and it will be an impressive place to live. I am really pleased we have reached this exciting stage at Gorse Ride and it demonstrates our commitment to regenerating the area.

“We can’t do projects like this on our own. I’d like to thank Wates who are working in partnership with us to deliver this flagship scheme for the community.”

Lee Bushell, regional director of Wates Residential, said: “We are pleased to be celebrating this traditional milestone with Wokingham Borough Council, in the regeneration of the Gorse Ride community. This development will provide not just new, comfortable, affordable homes but will benefit the community through employment and training opportunities, as well as economic growth for years to come.”

Chair of the Gorse Ride Steering Group Steve Bowers said: “The homes are really impressive and are going to be a great addition to Wokingham Borough Council’s affordable housing. They will be in place for many years to come, providing accommodation for local people and building the community in Finchampstead.”

The phased regeneration at Gorse Ride will take place over many years, transforming the community into a place local people can be proud of. The council will continue to work closely with the local community throughout the second phase of the regeneration to ensure people are relocated and new properties are delivered with as little disruption as possible.

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