DASH specialises in providing accommodation and support for homeless people and people at risk of homelessness. DASH will continue to deliver that vitally important service, but the charity has also founded a new development arm to the charity which will offer affordable, general needs housing.
The name DASH have chosen for their new affordable housing trading arm, ‘Kepier Homes’, was inspired by the history of the former Kepier Hospital, a medieval hospital and almshouse for the poor. The ruined gatehouse of Kepier Hospital lies beside the River Wear, a short walk from Gilesgate, where our headquarters is located.
Kepier Hospital was founded at Gilesgate by Bishop of Durham Ranulf Flambard in 1112AD before being re-founded at Kepier, next to the River Wear, by Bishop Hugh le Puiset around 1180. It hosted Edward I during one of his journeys north, but was dissolved by Henry VIII. The hospital gatehouse remains standing (pictured above).
The hospital originally functioned as an almshouse for older men in housing need and later it also provided accommodation for travellers and pilgrims to Durham Cathedral. The location and function of the former hospital fits well with the ethos of our charitable work and also reflects an evocative local and historical connection with our base in Durham City.
Kepier Homes will build or redevelop properties to provide affordable homes for families or single people across County Durham.
The launch of DASH’s development arm comes after the charity achieved ‘Registered Provider of Social Housing’ status with Homes England in March 2020. Social housing gives people a home, it’s cheaper to rent than privately rented housing and usually provides a long-term tenancy, giving renters the chance to put down roots.
Being a Registered Provider of Social Housing will be an extension to the work the charity already does in providing accommodation and support for homeless people and people at risk of homelessness. This excellent service will continue to be delivered and will be unaffected by the development of an affordable housing arm to the organisation.
Kepier Homes first venture is to extend DASH’s headquarters at Hudson House to create self-contained flats for affordable rent. DASH has been based at Hudson House, formerly the Lord Gort pub, in Gilesgate, Durham City, since 2017. Part of the existing building will also be converted and work starts on site in November.
DASH have successfully applied to Durham County Council for Commuted Sums funding and have also secured Homes England funding to support the conversion of the first floor and part of the ground floor to provide 4no. 1 bed. self-contained flats which will be let at affordable rent.
Les Punton (pictured below), Chairman of DASH’s trustees, said: “We are very excited to be launching Kepier Homes. We know from our work supporting people at risk of homelessness that there is also a great need for more affordable housing in our local communities.
The accommodation that will be provided at Hudson House will be let in accordance with DASH’s allocation policy with a strong emphasis on local connection. Local people will be welcome to apply for the flats which will be available in spring 2021. DASH will be advertising properties in line with Durham County Council’s Key Options and the County Council will have some nomination rights.
“Our expansion into general needs affordable housing, and the launch of Kepier Homes, is a natural progression for us. We look forward to offering the flats at Hudson House early in the new year and other properties in the near future.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has presented us with many challenges, as it has for so many. But we are extremely pleased that during 2020 we have been able to achieve Registered Provider of Social Housing status and establish Kepier Homes on a very promising footing.
“We could not do any of this without our fantastic staff, trustees, volunteers and partners and we are very grateful for everyone’s ongoing support and dedication.”
DASH is currently recruiting for new trustees and more volunteers. For more information about this please visit our Volunteers page