By Betsy Everett
Nearly three years since the idea was conceived, work is finally underway on the Askrigg Foundation building in Main Street to create three affordable homes for local people.
The £270,000 project, helped by one of the first grants paid out by Richmondshire District Council under the government’s community-led housing scheme, is expected to take about six months to complete.
The imposing three-storey building which overlooks the market cross will be converted to provide two flats on the first and second floors, a craft shop at ground level, and a cottage at the rear. Under the terms of the government scheme, and in line with national park planning policy, the accommodation will be let at below market value, and in perpetuity: unlike council-owned and housing association properties, they cannot be sold.
The builders are Neil Dinsdale and his team from Hawes, whose first job will be to replace the roof of what will become the two-bedroomed cottage at the rear.
Elizabeth Fawcett, chair of the Askrigg Foundation which acquired the property in the early 1970s, said she was delighted the building work – delayed more than four months by the Covid-19 pandemic – was finally underway.
“I really hope this starts the journey through a straightforward build and a beautiful renovation to secure this village asset for future generations. At a time when affordable housing in rural areas is so scarce, it is in line with the founding Christian principles of the charity, which were to support the local community.”
Just before “lockdown” all potentially dangerous asbestos was stripped from the building, and prior to that more than half a century’s accumulated paperwork and artefacts were removed. North Yorkshire County Council’s archivist has worked with local volunteers to secure vital documents for the future.
The Askrigg Foundation project has been awarded a grant of £150,000 by Richmondshire District Council from the government’s community-led housing scheme, and £9,500 for refurbishment of the ground-floor shop from the National Lottery’s community fund.