The MP for South Suffolk has highlighted the ongoing housing pressures facing the district as work begins on a new housing scheme in Lavenham.
James Cartlidge turned the first sod on the former site of a highways depot off Melford Road on Friday, which is set to provide 18 affordable homes in the village.
The scheme will deliver 13 homes for rent and five under shared ownership. It will be made up of a mix of bungalows and two and three-bedroom houses.
Mr Cartlidge raised concerns over the number of housing applications which are refused, and warned that demand for more homes remains high.
“We have to build because housing supply is under severe pressure,” he said. “Young people are finding it hard to get on to the property ladder.”
Mr Cartlidge highlighted the importance of communities forming a neighbourhood plan and acknowledged the key role that Lavenham had played.
He also recognised the opportunities the new scheme would provide, which he said “ticks all the boxes”.
Lavenham Parish Council chairman Carroll Reeve was delighted that the development would soon become a reality, but echoed Mr Cartlidge’s concerns surrounding housing demand.
“Frankly, it’s what every village needs,” he said. “It’s a common problem across the district.”
Mr Reeve noted that there was a misconception that Lavenham provided a lot of high-paid jobs.
“Most of the jobs are in shops and hospitality, so it’s not a high-wage economy,” he said, highlighting that the scheme would be aimed at people living in the village.
“It’s for people with a local connection,” said Mr Reeve, who hopes the scheme will help the younger generation to remain in the area.
“It will bring some people back in and some young people will need affordable housing to live in the village.”
The land was previously used as a gritting depot by Suffolk County Council, and registered as a brownfield site.
“It’s better that it’s used for housing rather than left to decay,” said Mr Reeve.
“We have had a number of big exhibitions so people could see what was going on from the outset.”
The partnership project between Lavenham Community Land Trust and Hastoe Housing Association is expected to be completed by mid-2019.
Sue Chalkley, chief executive of Hastoe Housing Association, said: “It’s been a great experience working in partnership with local people to deliver the affordable homes that Lavenham needs.
“They will help to ensure more young families are able to remain in the village they grew up in and help the local community to thrive.”
To reflect the community scheme, an art piece designed by a resident will be selected and made the focal point of the development.