THE Westward Housing Group is set to develop 450 new homes across Devon and Cornwall in the next five years following a £20-million investment from NatWest.

As a part of the bank’s £5-billion lending initiative to enhance the UK’s social housing sector, the funding boost will allow Westward and its customers to benefit from the construction of new, affordable homes as well the retrofitting of existing properties.

With Devon and Cornwall facing an extreme shortage of affordable housing, the funding announcement will provide welcome relief to those struggling to find a home in the area, which has experienced a 400 per cent increase in average property prices in the last 25 years, largely due to the rising volume of second-homes.

Paul Bryan, deputy chief executive officer at Westward Housing Group said: “At Westward Housing Group, we believe that everyone has the right to safe, affordable housing.

“The housing markets in both Devon and Cornwall are facing their own unique set of challenges. NatWest’s support will allow us to develop new homes and bolster our existing portfolio while also making improvements that will benefit the lives of the customers and families we’re already working with.”

Dharmesh Patel, associate director at Natwest commercial mid market, added: “NatWest is commitment to supporting the UK’s social housing sector and Westward is an example of a business that is directly helping the people in the communities it serves.

“The next five years are set to be an exciting chapter for Paul and the team, and we’re delighted to support them.”

Established over half a century ago, Westward is one of the largest providers of affordable homes in the South West, housing over 18,000 customers and families across the region as well as employing a team of more than 260 – adding an estimated £10.4-million to the local economy.