Eighty years of Grayshott & District Housing Association

How it all started…..

gdhaRolling back the years to 1935 the UK was cheering up as it emerged from the Great Depression which still gripped many other countries but over in Germany, Adolf Hitler had grasped dictatorial power, bringing with it the threat of war.  Here in Grayshott, Charlotte Lyndon, a Parish Councillor, had more immediate concerns: since the turn of the century the population of Grayshott had doubled to some 1200 and housing developments were raising fears that Grayshott would lose its identity as a genuine rural village. But, despite all the building going on the cost of the new housing was out of reach of a number of residents and ever since the early 20’s Mrs Lyndon, backed by Grayshott Parish Council, had been pressing the District Council to build at least a dozen more homes at reasonable rents of not more than 12 shillings a week. (average earnings for farm workers, the intended tenants, was just £1.12s. for a 50 hr. week) Frustrated by the lack of action she brought together a small group of interested local people in the autumn of 1935 to form a provisional committee to raise loans to buy a piece of land on which a dozen cottages could be built.

In the December of 1935, Grayshott and District Housing Association formally came into being, with the aim of providing social housing for local people. Unfortunately, the Association could not find a suitable site on which to build, but luckily in 1936 two sites, each with six houses on them came on to the market; these it snapped up funded by loans and public subscriptions. The Housing Association became a reality in bricks and mortar, although much renovation still needed to be done.

Sadly, Mrs Lyndon did not enjoy her success for long as on the 5th October 1936 she died suddenly while on holiday. Described by one commentator as ‘a shy woman who carried out many acts of kindness by stealth’, Charlotte was a formidable woman: Lady Superintendent of the Hospital in the Cenacle, Chairman of the Parish Council for many years, a District Councillor, a Justice of the Peace and, among many other good works, she was one of the originators of the scheme which led to the opening of the Fox and Pelican.

These twelve houses constituted the Association’s housing stock until 1960 when Miss Pearman, a founding member of the Association, gave two houses, followed by five more in succeeding years and provided for three newly built bungalows. In 1990 the Committee appealed for additional capital to construct a block of four apartments on land bequeathed by Mrs Lyndon: supported by donations from the village, loans from individuals and charities and a donation from EHDC, it was completed in 1992.

Mrs Lyndon was succeeded as Chairman by her husband Dr. Arnold Lyndon. For a time, the Association didn’t look to extend its stock of houses as the District Council had started to build Council Housing. Finally, in 1995 the Association bought a property from Grayshott Parish Council originally bequeathed to the Council by Mrs Lyndon. This brought the Association’s stock up to its present 30 properties.

Mrs Lyndon and Miss Pearman were two remarkably generous ladies, without whom the Association may never have existed; the village is deeply indebted to them.

The work still goes on ……

Today as over the years, the Management Committee conducts the business of the Association; all members give their time voluntarily, a Secretary is employed part-time. The Committee of nine local people, is very conscious of the Association’s charitable aims and looks to continue to provide good quality homes at rents well below market levels. With so much voluntary input our administrative costs are very low helping to hold down rents.

In recent years several properties have been enlarged or substantially renovated, double glazing and central heating installed as well as eight roofs being completely renewed. The Committee has established an annual inspection and maintenance programme.

G&DHA owns 30 properties ranging from 1 bedroom flats through to 4 bedroom houses.

Housing is very much in the news and you will hear various schemes being bandied about, with the Government constantly reviewing the future of social and affordable housing. Grayshott & District Housing Association is registered under an Act that came into force in August 2015 as a Community Benefit Society with charitable rules, but unlike the larger Housing Associations it is not registered with the Homes and Communities Agency(HCA). This means that there is a degree of independence and the Association is not weighed down by a mass of regulation and reporting which would be inappropriate to its small size, and be costly. As it is not a Registered Social Landlord, tenants do not have a right to buy.

The future……

A recent review of the constitution by a specialist housing consultant has led to the conclusion that the present status should be retained and G&DHA operate as a small efficient organisation serving the village community. They advised that there would be benefit from entering into an agreement with a larger HCA registered Housing Association to advise on future development opportunities, and so an agreement has been made with the English Rural Housing Association.

With the small number of properties, waiting times for potential tenants can be long. A register is kept and updated regularly as well whenever a vacancy occurs. G&DHA is always looking out for new sites and suitable development opportunities.

Planning Permission has recently been obtained for a new house and construction will start this year using G&DHA reserves, the first new building for over twenty years!

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