Construction of a new £1.8 million development of affordable homes gets underway in Embleton, Northumberland as leading contractor, Surgo Construction (Surgo) starts on site.

Surgo was recently appointed by Northumberland County Council to design and construct 16 new homes on the site of an old whinstone quarry in the village which closed in 1961.

This latest development is comprised of four two-bedroom bungalows, four one-bedroom apartments, six two-bedroom houses and two three-bedroom houses. It is being constructed under Northumberland’s affordable homes programme and will be managed by Homes for Northumberland (HFN), the council’s arms length housing management company.

Under the terms of the contract Surgo will clear the site ahead of installing associated drainage and mains services in preparation for timber frame construction of the new homes.

Key challenges the contractor faces during the 38-week build schedule include a lack of mains gas in the village and an electricity supply which is already operating at capacity. To overcome these challenges Surgo will install LPG tanks and increase the capacity of the electricity substation in order to meet requirements. Due to the site’s location and in keeping with the contractor’s policy of supporting the local economy, Surgo will staff the project using both labour and sub-contractors who work within the local vicinity.

Speaking about this latest site to get underway, Surgo’s director, Jeff Alexander said:

“I am delighted to announce start on site and our involvement on this much-needed, affordable housing development. Our experience of this sector is extensive and we look forward supporting Northumberland County Council in its endeavours to meet the housing requirements of local communities across the county by delivering this latest scheme according to the scheduled programme of works.”

Councillor Allan Hepple, policy board member responsible for housing at Northumberland County Council said: “It’s great to see another affordable housing scheme get underway.

“Recent figures have shown that the county is ahead of its target of delivering 1,000 new affordable homes by 2017, and this development is a key contributor to that success.  By the end of March we expect 641 homes to have been completed.

“Developing affordable housing in Northumberland is a key priority for the council and we are doing this in a number of ways including building ourselves and working in partnership with housing associations and private developers.”

Some of the funding for the Embleton development has been provided by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). Ali Johnson, the agency’s area manager, said:

”We are delighted to be working in partnership with the county council and to be supporting the provision of affordable housing in this rural area.  The provision of 16 high quality, energy efficient homes will make a real difference to the residents of Embleton.  We know how difficult the provision of rural housing can be, so delivery of schemes such as this really does benefit local communities.”

By the end of this financial year some £20 million will have been invested by Northumberland County Council and the HCA to build a total of 227 new dwellings.