THE Princess Royal paid a visit to Wickham Bishops to officially open a new affordable homes development.

The English Rural Housing Association completed their 27 homes development on Mackmurdo Place in the village in May last year.

During her visit on Wednesday, HRH Princess Anne greeted members of the parish council and Maldon District Council before being shown around one of the houses, owned by Paige Bridge, who moved into the home in June with her seven-year-old son Rocco.

Ms Bridge said: “I literally just received a phone call asking if the Princess Royal could be shown around my house, out of nowhere.

“I was extremely chuffed when I put the phone down, hardly anyone can say a member of the Royal Family has been shown around their home.

“I’m from the area originally, I’ve lived in Great Totham and Heybridge and have family here, I love the house and the neighbourhood.”

After the tour, The Princess Royal gave a short speech where she officially unveiled a plaque for the development, before enjoying afternoon tea with residents at the village hall before being presented with flowers.

The project, titled “Village Homes – Something for Everyone” was initiated by Wickham Bishops Parish Council in partnership with English Rural, includes 12 affordable homes and 15 market homes marketed as local households.

These include flats and bungalows available for both rent and ownership.

The entire project has been delivered without any public subsidy, through a cross-subsidy agreement with the landowner and developer of the open market properties.

Henry Bass, Chairman of Maldon District Council, said: “I am delighted, as both chairman of Maldon District Council and one of the ward members, to see this initiative receive the recognition it deserves. This is an excellent example of how such an outstanding scheme can be delivered when all parties work closely together.

“It has provided an affordable opportunity for local people to remain here in the village and enables them to continue to play an active role in this community.”

Adrian Maunders, Chief Executive of the English Rural Housing Association, said: “The visit will help to promote the benefits that community-led projects such as this can bring to villages like Wickham Bishops.

"We are especially pleased that HRH The Princess Royal was able to visit one of our developments in Essex, where we have a successful track record of working with parish and district councils across the county to provide well designed affordable homes in partnership with and for the benefit of local communities.”