FUNDING has been secured for major new housing developments in south Shropshire.

More than £1.3m of Government funding has been allocated to create up to 68 af fordable new homes in the Marches area.

Most of the houses are destined to be built in Church Stretton, near Craven Arms and Orleton.

Five community-led schemes in south Shropshire and north Herefordshire were awarded the money by the Homes and Communities Agency.

In Shropshire, funding has been approved for outline schemes in Church Stretton (38 homes), as well as Onibury, near Craven Arms (six homes).

A scheme for 14 new homes is also earmarked for Orleton.

Each of the schemes, known as Community Land Trusts (CLTs), has been the result of collaboration betweenparish and town councils, Shropshire Housing Group, the Marches Local Enter prise Partnership, Shropshire Council and Herefordshire Council.

In each case land has either been acquired by Shropshire Housing Group or been identified as suitable by the parish and town councils and local authorities.

Shropshire Housing Group will support the parish councils to lead the development of the schemes.

CLTs are designed to provide affordable housing by holding land in a non-profit trust, enabling it to be rented or sold at affordable rates because the price does not have to reflect the market value of the land.

“This is excellent news for our counties and for the communities which will benefit from the addition of affordable homes, allowing people with links to those areas to live and work where they grew up or where they might have family,” said Martin Holland, chief executive of Shropshire Housing.

“It's also a boost to the economies of those areas in so many ways, from the construction phase all the way through to the economic life of each town or village in the future.”

Work can now begin on consulting with the communities on suitable designs and obtaining full planning consent.

The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership endorsed the funding bid led by Shropshire Housing Group.

“We applaud the work that has been done here in the Marches to develop an innovative approach to community-led housing through a model umbrella Community Land Trust,” said Ludlow businessman Geoffrey Davies, chairman of the LEP.