A PROJECT to convert a derelict church hall into a new community centre with affordable homes has started.

Construction of the new centre and 12 affordable rental homes in Tilehurst is being delivered by Stonewater with help from Reading Borough Council.

The site on St George’s Road is set to be transformed after additional funding of £752.000 was granted by the council to help deliver the scheme.

Reverend Adam Carlill said: “I am delighted that St George’s is able to contribute to this much-needed housing development as part of our mission to the communities of West Reading.

"We want to help foster quality human relationships through compassionate, courageous and contemplative living.”

The social housing provider manages around 560 homes in Reading and hopes to install a mixture of one and two-bedroom units by January 2019.

Lisa Wadhams, Stonewater development manager, added: “We are delighted to be involved in this innovative development at St George’s which will not only bring much-needed affordable homes in a prime residential location, but new purpose-built community facilities for Tilehurst residents.

“With the average rent in the district now averaging £950 a month, which is more than a third of the typical local wage, the need for affordable homes in the area is very real.

"This scheme is an excellent example of how we can work together with local authorities to identify under-used sites in the community, which can be revitalised with brand new affordable housing.

"I can’t wait to see these new homes completed in January next year.”

The homes are set to be allocated through the council's Choice Based Lettings system, which prioritises those who need accommodation the most.

Councillor John Ennis, the lead member for housing, said: “This is an excellent example of the council working in partnership with a social housing provider to supply new affordable homes, with the use of Right to Buy receipts.

“There is a desperate shortage of affordable homes in Reading so this innovative scheme is a very welcome development which will also benefit local residents with the provision of a new community centre.”