A£6million regeneration project in Great Cornard was officially opened by a visit from The Duke of Kent yesterday afternoon.
Applegate Mews, in Poplar Road, consists of 44 new Flagship Housing homes and six shops and was built to provide affordable housing for the village.
The duke met two families that have moved into the development – Lisa Gray and her son James, 11, and Nichola and Terry Heritage and their children Bethany, 14, Oliver, 8 , and Phoebe, 6.
Speaking as he planted a royal red maple tree to mark the occasion, the duke said: “I am delighted to come and see transformation of this area, I remember how the houses were before.
“What a big improvement this is,” he added.
Mr and Mrs Heritage and their family were the first family to move in.
They came to the area in 2005 when Oliver was born but, due to his poor health which included breathing and mobility difficulties, Nichola was unable to work, due to regular hospital visits and mental health problems. Terry was forced to stop working at Delphi Diesel due to ill health.
“We just couldn’t afford our mortgage and the house and car were both repossessed,” said Nichola.
They were rehomed in Hadleigh but in April they were able to move in to Applegate Mews under Babergh District Council and Flagship’s affordable housing scheme.
“We now have a home for life which is great,” said Mr Heritage. “Phoebe and Oliver are back at Pot Kiln Primary School and we have family nearby.”
The duke, who is the Queen’s cousin, also proved a hit with Bobby, the Heritage family’s pet parrot.
Nichola said: “As soon as he walked in, Bobby gave him a wolf-whistle, which everyone thought was funny.”