An eco-friendly housing development that’s helping to breathe new life into a former slate quarrying village in Snowdonia has won a major national award.

The £730,000 Maes y Waen scheme in Penmachno in Conwy was named as the Development of the Year at the Welsh Housing Awards.

The prize was awarded jointly to housing association Cartrefi Conwy, Conwy County Borough Council and Conwy Rural Housing Enabler who were partners in the project.

As well as the excellent quality of the design and construction, the judges also praised the development for helping to safeguard the future of the village school as well as the Welsh language and culture.

The six affordable family houses have ensured that local families can stay in the village rather than having to move away from the area.

The four three-bedroom properties and two two-bedroom properties were built by construction firm R.L. Davies.

The scheme was the first social housing development in the village for 40 years.

Cartrefi Conwy decided to press ahead with the scheme after a survey by the Conwy Rural Housing Enabler showed a clear need to meet local demand.

According to Andrew Bowden, the Chief Executive of Cartrefi Conwy, receiving the award was a proud moment.

He said: “Cartrefi Conwy set out to deliver the Welsh Quality Housing Standard by improving all our existing properties and we did that on time – the next milestone for us was to start to build new, affordable homes in the county of Conwy.

“It’s absolutely fantastic news that we were able to do our first scheme in a rural community, within the Snowdonia National Park, very much working the Rural Housing Enabler and the Community Council to ensure that our development suited the needs of the local community.

“We are now advised that our development will help sustain the local school as well as the local Welsh culture and language which again is important to Cartrefi Conwy.

“We used modern methods of construction to ensure high insulation standards and they have solar panels and air source heat pumps as well.

“The homes have many modern features and have  been designed as ‘lifetime homes’ making the homes fully accessible for disabled tenants or older people.”

Cllr Phil Edwards, the cabinet member with responsibility for housing at Conwy Council, said: “I am proud our partnership has led to the winning of this prestigious award.

“The most important thing is that we provide housing for local people so that they can stay in their community which helps the community stay alive for the future.

“We are moving the game forward in terms of social housing. There has been too long a period where there was no provision like this for the communities and this has raised the bar for the future.

“The scarcity of affordable homes especially in the heart of the countryside means that people have to move away to get work.

“We have to break that vicious circle and make sure that we work for our communities by providing housing and by enabling people to stay in their communities and then helping them to find work.”

Among the tenants at Maes y Waen is mother-of-three Rachel Wainwright, who was born and brought up in Penmachno.

She is thrilled with her new home and says that without it the family would probably have had to move away from the village because the rented accommodation they were living in was up for sale.

Rachel explained: “It was really important that we were able to stay in Penmachno. My family are all here and they look after the children when I work.

“The children are used to being here and they’ve got a lot of friends in the village so it’s really nice now just hearing them play outside with their friends in the street.  They’ve never had that before so it’s really good.

“The house is brilliant, it’s really lovely. I would never have been able to get something like this without Cartrefi Conwy.”

According to Brian Roberts, Chair of Cartrefi Conwy’s Development Committee, the development marked the beginning of a new chapter for the organisation.

He said: “The Maes y Waen development is the first of many. We are planning to build a lot more affordable homes over the next few years.”

Conwy Council’s Rural Housing Enabler, Buddug Williams, said: “It’s great that a development in such a rural area can win such a prestigious award.”

It was a sentiment echoed by quantity surveyor Chris Jones, from construction firm R.L. Davies, who said: “I’m very proud. The award is testament to a great team effort and shows how hard everyone has worked.”

David Lowe, Conwy Council’s Affordable Housing Development Officer, added: “This development supports the local community, helps keep the local school going and helps make the community more sustainable. It is a great achievement that the partnership working that underpinned and delivered this housing project helped us gain such national recognition.”