This sympathetic restoration and refurbishment project has breathed new life into historic buildings to provide desirable, modern, affordable living for local people.
The Almshouses in Burneston North Yorkshire were built in 1680 and established by Matthew Robinson, Vicar of Burneston, for poor and elderly residents in the area. Over time the buildings saw various alterations and changes in use, but over recent years had had stood empty.
Recent proposals, led by the Matthew Robinson Trust (MRT) in partnership with Broadacres, have been to restore and refurbish the Almshouses and old school room, using a ‘light touch’ approach to sympathetically repair the fabric of the building and create a ‘new’ one-bed property alongside existing one and two-bedroom properties within the Grade 2* listed buildings. In addition, an adjacent former schoolmasters’ house has been extended from an existing two-bedroom property to form a four-bedroom family home.
The Almshouses are important within the village: their age, traditional character, appearance, and use of materials positively contributing to the historical street-scene. There is a historical and visual connection with the listed church, the school, and a visual connection with the listed telephone box.
Investment in the repair and conservation of the listed buildings has not only secured their long-term future and expand the provision of much needed local affordable housing but it has also helped to preserve the character of the Burneston Conservation Area and the significance of other listed buildings within it.
This project demonstrated collaboration at its very best, with every member of the team sharing the Trust's vision for the project's success. Kick-started by the Rural Housing Enabler (RHE) programme, there were multiple organisations and funders involved in bringing the scheme to fruition, including the Matthew Robinson Trust and its dedicated volunteer workforce. Grant funding came from Homes England, with additional funds from MRT, the Almshouses Association, Hambleton District Council, and the Charity Bank. Broadacres provided a long-term solution by developing, maintaining and managing the buildings into the future. Other organisations included Moody Construction, Identity Consult, Fairhurst Construction and P+HS Architects.
Remarkably the entire development was delivered during the pandemic, but in spite of the challenges of distancing, interrupted communication and supply chain issues, the project remained on track throughout.
Although it could be considered a small, modest project, its local impact is huge. The scheme has breathed new life into a loved and historically important community asset and returned it to its original purpose of housing people in need. Demonstrating the high demand for affordable homes for local people interest in the properties was oversubscribed by an average of 30 applicants per dwelling.