The Crocus Campaign
Building homes, growing hope in Saffron Walden
As a desirable place to live, Saffron Walden has a significant shortage of small, affordable accommodation which limits the ability of local people to stay close to their roots. The average price of a home is also more than 13 times the average salary and most market rents in the town cost at least a quarter of monthly earnings. For those struggling on a low income, this makes living here practically impossible.
One solution is to apply for an almshouse licence. Unlike the majority of the 1700 independent Almshouse charities across the country, who prioritise their accommodation for the over-50s, the majority of our applicants are of working age and often coping with life circumstances that make it difficult for them to take on the high cost of market rents.
“… Without any property or capital, my situation was very precarious. Being granted an Almshouse flat enabled me to remain at the heart of the community, close to friends and family. The Charity gave me a secure home which contributed greatly to my mental recovery from the stroke.”
Why do we need support?
Funding a rolling programme of improvements to our properties, including day-to-day maintenance, cyclical repairs and major renovations, costs around £175,000 a year. Much of our accommodation is also within listed buildings which require careful restoration and sensitive refurbishment. In addition, a proportion of our site sits above the River Slade culvert which we are legally required to maintain.
Alongside these ongoing expenditures, we hold a number of loans on our existing properties, all of which are currently re-paid from licence revenues. Whilst this makes it possible for us to keep going as we are, it doesn’t enable us to plan for a future that proactively addresses the current housing crisis or alleviates pressure on Uttlesford District Council to build more affordable homes in the town.
Our current single-storey units on Prime’s Close were added to the site in the 1950s and, in spite of ongoing improvement and costly repair, they continue to suffer from significant condensation issues. This is a serious concern as it supports the growth of black spot mould which aggravates respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. Continued attempts to upgrade these homes have been unsuccessful, causing us to keep under review whether all these units can be used. The advice we have received suggests that demolition and replacement would be a more cost-effective and enduring solution to the problem.
After many years of planning, our answer is Project Crocus; a development of up to 16 sensitively-designed, accessible, energy-efficient new properties that replace the existing seven bungalows on Prime’s Close. In adopting the historic emblem of the saffron crocus, our aim is to create a visible reminder of our shared sense of heritage with the town. The flower, whose corms will be planted all around the new homes, is also a powerful symbol of hope and connection to a remarkable community in this corner of Essex.
The Crocus Campaign
The anticipated capital cost of Project Crocus is expected to be around £4.5 million and whilst as much as £500,000 may be available from our ringfenced funds, we are still left with a significant shortfall. This is why we are launching the Crocus Campaign; to create not just up to 16 modern, affordable homes for people in financial hardship, but also to promote our broader vision with potential givers and grant-makers, so that we can secure our charitable activities for the long-term.
Join a giving programme
There are a number of ways that you can help to transform the lives of local people in search of stability, community and a place to call home. The Crocus Campaign offers opportunities for you to show your support by making a regular gift or by leaving a bequest in your Will. Gifts to the Campaign can be pledged over five years or made as a one-off donation and we are very happy to discuss the options for naming the new accommodation in its entirety or for specific units. We would also be delighted to accept gifts that are dedicated either in your own name or in memory of a loved one. To find out more about these opportunities contact Amy Stevens on firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are just a few examples of how a gift to the Crocus Campaign can make a real difference to the lives of local people:
£5,000 | could fit out a bathroom in one of the new properties.
£10,000 | could fit out a kitchen in one of the new properties.
£25,000 | could fully equip a home for a disabled or less able-bodied resident.