Mabel Luke Almshouses: a tradition of affordable accommodation

© Peter Jakubowski

Bill Piner, Chairman of the Trustees for the Charity of Mrs Mabel Luke, explains how a loan from Charity Bank assisted the expansion of their almshouses, offering more accommodation to those in need.

“In 1928, Mrs Mabel Luke bought a plot of land on Mill Lane in Newbury where she had four properties built to offer affordable accommodation to families in need. These properties are a part of the long almshouse tradition, enabling local people to have a home at a reasonable rental price.

“The Charity of Mrs Mabel Luke and its trustees have managed and maintained this legacy ever since Mrs Luke passed on the baton. The original four properties only made use of two-thirds of the land available and, for a long time, the trustees had wanted to expand on this to provide more housing for the people of Newbury and Greenham.

“In 2013, the Almshouse Association advised of changes to the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) regulations which meant we could request funding as part of an almshouse consortium. This made the project more feasible for a small charity like us to take on and, in December 2016, the HCA grant funding was finalised. With this initial support, we were able to start looking for other investors and lenders to help finance the outstanding amount required to build 16 new properties.

“We hired a professional financial advisor who put us in contact with Charity Bank, knowing that they would be a fantastic fit for our project. The charity has no other assets so it would have proved difficult for us to gain a loan from a mainstream bank. Although Charity Bank put us through our paces to ensure we could manage the financial implications of a long-term loan, they understood the way we worked and offered great support throughout.

“Ultimately, Charity Bank enabled the project to go ahead through agreeing to finance over half the costs. Now, all three new blocks of accommodation are under construction and will offer an extra 16 sustainable homes to help those on the extensive waiting list for housing in the area. Mabel Luke would have been very proud.”

“New blocks of accommodation are under construction and will offer an extra 16 homes to help those on the extensive waiting list for housing in the area”

Bill Piner, Chairman of the Trustees
The Directors And Representative From The Builders

Directors and builders representative half way through the project. © Newbury Weekly News