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    Featuring possibly Britain's first ever purpose-built social housing homes.

    Introducing Pioneer Cottages, built in the 1890s 

    A photo of Pioneer Cottages in the modern day

    Proposals to build these affordable homes for rent caused somewhat of a stir in rural Kent when they were first suggested in the early 1890s. Key among the advocates of affordable and decent housing for local people was Dr L E Wood, who had been horrified by conditions of the homes he had visited when seeing patients.  

    Dr Wood chaired the joint committee set up by Sevenoaks and Penshurst parish councils and several years later this delivered six houses featuring all the mod-cons of the day, ready to let with rents set at five shillings a week, about a quarter of the average income at the time.  

    Pioneer Cottages form part of West Kent’s diverse housing stock across Kent and have since undergone significant modernisation over the years. Without the pioneering vision and sheer tenacity of individuals like Dr Wood back in the 1890s these homes would not have been developed. 

    A floor plan of the original cottages

    West Kent began operating as a housing association, through a stock transfer from Sevenoaks District Council back in March 1989 and took over the management of Pioneer Cottages as part of this process. Over the last 35 years, West Kent has invested in homes and communities and has grown to provide over 8,500 homes across Kent.  

    Our mission and vision remain the same now as back in 1989, providing people with places to live and creating space for them to grow.  

    To find out more about 35 years of West Kent, please visit - 35 years of West Kent | West Kent

    35 years of West Kent – Veronica's story

    In our next story for our history and legacy theme, hear from Veronica, who has over 30 years of service at West Kent.