HOUSING association LiveWest has committed to build 302 homes in rural areas across Somerset over the next two years.

Of the new dwellings, 20 will be in both Bishops Lydeard and Wiveliscombe and 18 in Glastonbury.

It comes after LiveWest developed 175 rural homes in the county in the past two years, including 85 in Ilminster and 18 in Dulverton.

It means 65 per cent of LiveWest homes built in Somerset were in rural locations.

Gareth Jones, development director for LiveWest, said: “It is great to be able celebrate rural housing and the vital role it plays in helping to sustain communities in rural areas.

“At LiveWest, we are committed to strengthening and supporting rural communities by creating access to excellent affordable housing.

“We know the huge difference that affordable homes make to local people in rural areas when they want to stay in an area for work or family reasons.

“Housing associations have a key role to play in supporting local communities coupled with providing homes that people love to live in.

"We are committed to supporting all our communities, including those who live in rural areas.

“Over the past two years, we have delivered 508 homes in rural locations in the South West.

"We are committed to increasing the supply of affordable rural housing in our towns and villages and to contributing positively to communities across Somerset.”

Other locations in Somerset where the housing association is set to build rural homes include Sparkford, Congresbury, Ashcott and Milborne Port.

Among satisfied tenants is pensioner Malcolm Gage, 69, on of the first residents to move into one of the 25 shared ownership homes in Ilminster, where a further 40 rentedd homes and 20 rent to buy properties were built by LiveWest.

Malcolm, who had been homeless and living in temporary accommodation, said: "I had a phone call from someone from LiveWest who told me, ‘Malcolm, you’ve got the house’ and I broke down and cried.

"It was absolutely fantastic, here I am now, and I’m overwhelmed by it.

“I know it’s shared ownership, but that’s not a problem for me because when I come to sell it, if I do, that money I put down will still be there.

“I came from a horrendous situation where I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel but eventually everything turned out alright."