A ROAD in a complex of 85 new affordable homes in Winterhay Lane, Ilminster has been named in honour of former Mayor, the late Cllr Paul Whaites.

Four generations of his family attended a celebration of the completion of the homes, during which four generations of his family helped unveil a communal bench in Whaites Drive.

His widow, Glenys, said: "It was one of Paul’s visions as a councillor to ensure local young people were able to stay in the Ilminster community with the provision of new affordable homes for them.

"He always said that our young families should have the opportunity to remain living in Ilminster and not have to move away.

"It was really moving to see the homes being occupied by so many local people."

The scheme, developed with construction company Halsall, is one of the biggest housing developments in the town for several years, with LiveWest investing nearly £14.5million into the 40 rented homes, 25 homes for shared ownership and 20 homes which are rent to buy.

Russell Baldwinson, executive director of development at LiveWest, said: “The homes here at Winterhay Lane provide a fantastic opportunity for local people to access great affordable homes and get a foot on the property ladder.

"There is a genuine choice of property – people can part rent, part buy their new home through the shared ownership scheme; for those that want to own a home in Ilminster but cannot afford it right now there is the option of rent to buy and there are affordable rented homes too.

“These affordable homes will help address the housing shortage in the area allowing more local people to find a good quality home close to their friends, family and workplace."

The development of the site, previously owned by heating company Powrmatic, has been partly funded by a £2.8million grant from Homes England, a national housing and regeneration agency.

Cllr Val Keitch, of South Somerset District Council, said: “I was extremely impressed with the quality and layout of LiveWest’s latest development here in Ilminster.

“I have no doubt that these houses are much anticipated and will provide families, couples and individuals in Ilminster a great opportunity to access the housing market if they want to.”

Andy Corp, managing director for Halsall, said: “We are proud to work with LiveWest to deliver high-quality affordable housing in this area, particularly on a brownfield site, and to aid them in tackling the housing shortage."

Local firefighter Ian Hansford, who moved into a rent to buy home in July, said: "I have always lived in Ilminster and it was a change in my circumstances which brought this opportunity about.

“I had a breakdown in my relationship, and this fell perfectly for me and I feel incredibly lucky to have come across it at the right time.

“The feel of community is really good here, there are a lot of children out playing and laughing which is always nice to hear.

“The whole feel is really nice, and the build quality of the homes is wonderful so I couldn’t be happier."

Factory worker Malcolm Gage had been homeless and then lived in a hotel for nine months before moving into a two-bedroom home.

He said: “I came from a horrendous situation where I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel but eventually everything turned out alright. I’ve got this home now and it’s really lovely so I’m happy to be here.

“I think the development is wonderful, to be quite honest, for people like me."

Young couple Sophie 21, and Dane 20, who grew up in the town, are in a shared ownership property.

Accountant Sophie said: "We have always dreamed of owning our own home, and after viewing other houses in the local area it was clear that a scheme where we could buy 50 per cent of our home would be perfect for us.

“We had to fit a certain local eligibility criteria to get one of the homes, but we have lived in the area all our lives so were hopeful we would be able to get one. We fell in love with as soon as we saw it. With two bedrooms, a garden and being within walking distance to our family and the town centre it was the perfect property.”