A groundbreaking ceremony in Gosport has marked the start of construction on a new Thorngate Churcher Trust development of homes in the town.

Representatives from Thorngate were joined by local councillors, construction staff, funders and professional advisors involved in the project to mark the start of construction of 30 warden-assisted flats for the over 50s. As an almshouse charity, Thorngate Churcher Trust has been offering low-cost community housing for local people in housing need since 1868.

Speaking at the event Mark Hook, chair of the board of trustees for Thorngate Churcher Trust, paid tribute to everyone who had worked so hard to reach this point.

L-R Oliver West from Vale Southern, Thorngate trustee chairman Mark Hook and chief executive Anne Taylor; photo credit: Thorngate Churcher Trust

Our responsibility as a social housing provider is to respond to the needs of our residents and that is a passion that drives not only the board but the whole team at Thorngate,” he said.

Thorngate currently has 124 sheltered flats for assisted living and Mark said the current waiting list is almost long enough to refill each of these homes.

We are conscious that we can’t satisfy all the demand for specialist housing for older people looking for independent living with people-based support but what we are doing here is maximising the potential of this site,” he said.

It has all the key features we know are most popular for our residents such as a multi-use space in the resident lounge, easily access for buggies and parking, and great transport connections. It is also a very green building with renewable energy.”

Funding for the new project has been made possible thanks to a grant from Homes England and support from Charity Bank. Carolyn Sims, director of lending from Charity Bank said she was pleased that the bank has been able to help Thorngate with this project.

“Older people should have somewhere decent to live and almshouses like Thorngate play a great role in this,” she said. “I’m personally thrilled we can support this project and look forward to the homes taking shape.”

Vale Southern, based in Portsmouth, has been awarded the contract to build the new homes and its managing director Oliver West said,

“This groundbreaking marks the start of a much-needed development, which we’re very proud to be delivering on behalf of Thorngate Churcher Trust. With spades now in the ground, we’re looking forward to getting the project underway and collaborating with Thorngate to create a high-quality development of sheltered flats for assisted living.”

Thorngate’s chief executive Anne Taylor said with work now underway the homes will be ready for occupation in 2025.

“Our new development on the corner of Grove Road and Sealark Road in Gosport will provide safe, comfortable, and modern homes with communal facilities and warden support,” said Anne.