Tony and Sarah

Annie Slinn

Tony and Sarah had always dreamed of settling in Whitehouse, Milton Keynes, but with costly property sale prices, it seemed like an unattainable aspiration. The couple had spent many years renting homes, until they learned of Grand Union’s shared ownership scheme. Through shared ownership, they could afford a place of their own, in the estate they longed to live in – moving in in August 2017 and soon after starting a family.

“We’ve accomplished a great deal in the years we’ve been here. Since moving in, we’ve had two beautiful daughters and helped to set up the Whitehouse Church, which has been a fantastic way to connect with other families living in the area.

“The homes are really picturesque; you can’t tell the affordable properties from the private sale homes, which I think really helps to reduce the stigma associated with affordable housing. Because Grand Union is so local, it’s a personable service, you really get to know people in the organisation and build relationships.”

Tony grew up in and around Milton Keynes and, after his parents fell on hard times, he and his family lived in a static caravan for several years.

“I was living in the caravan for a long time, into my early twenties. While completing my degree in Youth Work, it made sense to live at home, keeping my outgoings lower. I spent a year out living with my uncle in Tanzania, before returning to the UK and gaining employment at Loughton Baptist church in Milton Keynes, where I met my future wife, Sarah.

“Sarah and I rented for many years and, once we were married, the only place we could afford to live in was a one-bedroom bungalow for £750pcm. It wasn’t fit for our needs, but we made do. We had dreams of settling in MK but affording to buy a property seemed out of reach. I remember looking around a development at Whitehouse, with a starting price of properties at £450k. It was really disheartening.”

Tony’s mum had worked with Grand Union in her role at the Fremantle Trust and suggested he and Sarah check out our website. When Tony visited the site, he couldn’t believe what he saw.

“My jaw dropped when the first home I saw advertised was a two-bed in Whitehouse, available for shared ownership – the very location we’d dreamed of living in. I stayed up until 1am, filling in a form and was delighted when our application was approved.

“It wasn’t just the house itself and the location, which was perfect, within six months several families had moved into the estate and it felt like a real sense of community. With my background in the church, I helped set up the Whitehouse Church and launched lots of local events, primary school visits and organised meal drops during the pandemic.

“We definitely wouldn’t have been able to afford to live in Whitehouse without Grand Union’s shared ownership scheme. What’s more, we’re keen to staircase – buying more shares of our property, with the view of owning it outright one day. Though our family has grown since moving in, it’s perfect for our needs and we particularly love the garden space.”

Tony is keen to get locals involved in Whitehouse Church, you can see updates at:

Facebook: @WhitehouseChurchMK

Instagram: @WhitehouseChurch

Website: www.whitehousemk.church