New homes for older people located in Tilehurst, officially opened with a launch event on Thursday 12 June. Guests included local Councillor Sandra Vickers, Alok Sharma MP, and Elizabeth Green who returned to her place of birth, 68 years on.
Last month saw the handover of Iris Court, in Tilehurst, Reading. The site, which retains a grade II listed rectory building following demolition of the old 1960’s sheltered accommodation, is set in a beautiful conservation area, adjacent to St Michael’s Church.
The land was purchased by James Butcher Housing Association in 1964 from the Church Commissioners.
Prior to purchase, the old rectory was occupied by the late Reverend Gordon Sherwood and his wife Kathleen who lived at the rectory raising their family, and later, their grandchildren.
Elizabeth Green, one of two grandchildren born at the Church; Elizabeth in 1946, and her brother David in 1947, has fond memories of growing up at the old rectory. Elizabeth says: “I can still remember it as it was in those post – war years. The rectory was a beautiful place to live, it seemed enormous to me then, at age four, my family and I were very happy there.
“Since leaving the rectory as a child, I have always kept an eye on the building with great interest, and I am very pleased that the house will continue as residential accommodation, four large communal rooms and four self-contained apartments make it sound like a very big building!”
Both the planning and listed building consent were granted in 2012 to develop 43 self-contained apartments for affordable rent, for those aged 50 and above. The scheme includes communal facilities in the old rectory and two lifts, whilst the flats benefit from lifetime homes features including fully accessible bathrooms and an optional Tunstall call system. There is an office on site to enable operations staff to base themselves there when necessary.
The design of the new build element complements the conservation area status, the listed building and traditional Victorian style landscaped grounds.
Troy Francis, Southern Housing Group, Regional Director says: “We are extremely proud of this development. It’s a great scheme in an attractive location, it has a very rich history which we are pleased to have incorporated. These 43 high quality homes will meet the needs of local people and demonstrate our on-going investment in the local area."
Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West, said: "I have seen Iris Court develop over the years whilst I have been out and about in the local area and I am delighted to see the quality of work that has been put in; this is a real local success story and appears to have been a good partnership between the local community and the local developer.
"It was a pleasure to attend the official opening of Iris Court and meet some of my constituents who are now enjoying the excellent facilities.”
A resident at the scheme commented; “Myself and my wife came back to Tilehurst because it’s our home, and moving into Iris Court was the best decision we’ve ever made."