Steve Edgar, Councillor at Weston and Basford Parish Council:
“I would like to express my sincere thanks to the team that developed the houses at Weston Woods.
“As a ward councillor I have seen more than 20 new developments commence within my area of responsibility and none of them remotely match the experience of having Lovell in the village. My house and garden backs onto the new estate and I dreaded the houses being built due to past negative experiences with other developers in the area.
“However, Lovell as a company is vastly different; little disturbance, any problems being swiftly dealt with, community projects have been supported and overall, the friendly contact with all members of staff has been appreciated.”
The development comprises a mixture of three, four and five-bedroom homes and six two-bedroom bungalows. As part of the planning agreement, Lovell and Latimer pledged to contribute up to £206,000 towards the area and create 1.36ha of public open space. Of the affordable homes, 20 are affordable rent and 10 are shared ownership. These homes will be managed by Clarion Housing.
David Ward, Managing Director North for Lovell Partnerships:
The development in Weston has been a fantastic site to kick off our partnership with Latimer. Lovell has worked closely with Cheshire East Council, Gladman, and residents of Weston to ensure the scheme will benefit the whole area. With good proximity to the M6 and a variety of highly rated primary and secondary schools, the development has been popular with commuters and growing families.
About the area
Weston is a village and civil parish, predominantly known as a farming community throughout its history. Part of the county of Cheshire, the village lies around three miles from Crewe – within the parish there are also several smaller settlements. With a population of around 1,000, the community has gradually become more connected to surrounding larger towns for employment opportunities but farming still plays a part in village life. Weston’s heritage is still prominent and has been maintained through many historic buildings. Today it is home to a nursery and primary school, as well as a cricket club, church and popular hotel pub.
During our initial consultations with the Weston community, we were met with some resistance to the development – but through consistent engagement we were able to build close working relationships. A dedicated liaison group was created, made up of key people from the parish, to enable the community to express their views constructively and receive regular project updates. In addition, we used the local newsletter in conjunction with this group to deliver project news to all homes within the parish. We understood the importance of allowing the village to feel part of the development and welcomed their thoughts and ideas. This resulted in transparency and enabled progress to continue at the site through to the end.
David Ward, Managing Director North for Lovell Partnerships:
“Lovell is committed to leaving a lasting legacy in the areas we work in, and this comes down to understanding and collaborating with our key stakeholders. In Weston, we knew there were negative perceptions of developers that we wanted to overcome and help to change. By keeping stakeholders updated through a newsletter and delivering several social value projects, Lovell was able to involve the community at every step.”
As part of showing its commitment to the local area and benefitting current as well as future residents, Lovell spent time on several initiatives.
Working in partnership with the community
The pupils of Weston Village Primary School were involved on multiple occasions right from work starting on site. Members of the Lovell team visited to give a talk on health and safety to enable children to ask questions, but also to ensure the protection of young people from the potential risks of a building site.
We launched our community activity with book donations on World Book Day (March 3) as well as also donating to the local nursery. From there, we also ran a campaign to celebrate World Earth Day (April 22), which put the community at the very heart by focusing on helping bee populations to thrive through diversifying plants and wildflowers in the area. We provided packs to residents that contained wildflower seeded paper for participants to plant at home, as well as speaking with the school and its eco ambassadors to educate pupils on the environmental impact of bee extinction.
This environmental focus was continued through a later donation of a variety of seeds and bulbs for the creation of a garden retreat, helped also by the Weston pupils. This activity coincided with the school’s Children in Need fundraiser as well as Lovell’s 50th anniversary celebrations, where staff pledged to deliver 50 hours of community volunteering. Staff across Lovell north west including graduates, technical coordinators, buyers and the marketing department gave their time over three days. As well as having the opportunity to donate bulbs and seeds, we were able to talk to the children about plants and what they need to grow.
As part of leaving a legacy for future Weston children and their families, the team also donated £650 towards the upgrade of the school playground with fresh equipment, including a pirate ship and climbing trees. We also encouraged our landscapers to donate spare plant pots, with the parish council funding flowers for them. In total, 12 large plant pots were put together and dotted around the village.
During the festive season, Lovell also wanted to get involved and contribute to the village traditions. The Weston Christmas Light Display is an annual event and one of the most popular in Cheshire, attracting tens of thousands of spectators over the years. As well as being a wonderful display of lights and decorations, the event helped to raise funds for the Donna Louise Children’s Hospice, to which Lovell donated £500, to show our support for an important cause in the community.
Tom Cutts, head teacher at Weston Village Primary School:
“The safety talk from Lovell was incredibly useful as the development is fairly close to the school, so we want to make sure that our pupils are safe and understand the potential dangers of a live building site.
“We’ve worked with Lovell Homes on several projects and always welcome its generous donations and contributions to the school curriculum. The students love getting involved in its initiatives and we look forward to seeing them enjoy the new garden and the exciting playground equipment.”
Celebrating past, present and future
While building a Lovell development is about residents starting an exciting new chapter and becoming part of a new community, it is important to celebrate and recognise the history of an area too. Weston has a rich heritage and connection to both World Wars that we wanted to honour.
Within the creation of a new children’s play area at the Weston Woods development, we also donated a commemorative bench. A celebratory event was held on Remembrance weekend in 2021. The bench features a plaque for Joseph Wood – a Weston man who was killed in World War I while serving in the Cheshire Regiment.
The opening of the play area and plaque unveiling was coordinated in partnership with Weston and Basford Parish Council.
In addition, we were proud to be able to reveal another tribute to local heroes, with the naming of Weston Woods streets dedicated to four Weston World War veterans and a local councillor in honour of their contributions to the village. John Hammond Close, was named after John, who passed away in 2018, to celebrate all the great work he did for the area. Other streets were named after Alfred Edward Brereton, Allen Dunn, Thomas Henry Lovatt and James Eli B Platt who were all born and raised in the village of Weston and fought in WWI as part of the Cheshire Regiment.
Richard Cook, Group Director of Development for Clarion Housing Group:
“We are delighted to have developed a long-term partnership with a well-respected developer that shares Latimer’s passion for placemaking and delivering quality, well-designed homes for our residents.
“Working together with Lovell in a joint venture enables us to play a prominent role in shaping our new communities, while delivering much-needed affordable housing.”