In July 2016, South Derbyshire District Council (SDDC) purchased
11 derelict homes in Rowley Court, Swadlincote. The homes were
former fire station houses, left empty for four years after changes
to how Swadlincote fire station operates. The purchase of the homes
is providing the funding to help pay for a long overdue
state-of-the-art, community fire station for the town.
An extensive 17 week programme of renovation works was
undertaken to bring the properties back into use. The project is
part of a wider vision to create more affordable homes to cater for
housing needs in South Derbyshire. SDDC are always seeking
opportunities to increase the affordable housing stock and the
acquisition of these 11 houses was one such opportunity.
The population in South Derbyshire is currently around 94,000
and increasing, it is currently the second fastest growing local
authority in the East Midlands. The population is expected to
increase to approximately 123,000 by 2035 (a 30% increase) so new
sustainable developments are vital to meet demand.
The empty homes were boarded up and were a visible blight on the
landscape attracting various anti-social behaviour problems
including a spate of break in's and vandalism which resulted in the
Fire Authority employing security at a cost of £15k per
year. The congregation of youths was also making the area an
undesirable and intimidating place for pedestrians to walk, forcing
many to avoid the area.
The properties were built in 1958. They consist of three
bedrooms, a study, bathroom, lounge, dining area, kitchen and
utility with downstairs W.C.
The works included:
- Replacement of roof covering - new fascia's and guttering
- Replacement heating
- New kitchens
- New bathrooms
- New doors and windows
- Decoration throughout
The externals of the properties were improved dramatically,
removing the old broken grey tile hangs, with high-quality modern
cedar cladding and render. External landscaping works were also
undertaken to provide two car parking spaces to each property. The
rear gardens were landscaped to provide an extra patio area and
fencing was erected to provide privacy for the new occupiers. The
street lighting was improved with LED lighting in adherence to the
principles of Secure by Design.
See the "before" and
"after" photographs of the project.
One of the homes has been adapted specifically for a family with
a child who has quite severe disabled needs. There were no existing
properties available in the council's housing stock that were
suitable to meet this family's needs, so these properties provide
an excellent solution without having to build a property that would
be suitable for the family. The adaptations include a through floor
lift, level access shower and ramp access.
There is a large communal grassed area which is planned to be
utilised for a tenant participation gardening project in 2017, for
the purpose of getting the community involved in its transformation
and reintegration into the community and tenants are being
consulted to decide what they would like the area to be used as.
Ideas currently include children's play area, allotments, and
SDDC utilised their local Contractors on the council's
procurement framework to undertake the works. All contracts have
been tendered to ensure that SDDC have achieved value for money in
all aspects of the works. At the beginning of the project, the
project manager undertook comprehensive feasibility studies to
scope out and accurately identify all potential works to improve
the houses. These works were costed by the Council's quantity
surveyor to enable a realistic budget to be calculated. It was
identified the best option would be to undertake comprehensive
improvement works, rather than the minimum essential remedial
works. As a consequence the Council now has a first class
product and further capital works will not be required for a
minimum of 15 years.
The scheme has received exceptionally good feedback to date from
the local community. The good news story has been covered both by
the local press and radio.
The site, which had for many years gained an unfavourable
reputation, has therefore been restored. It has provided a great
boost for the town centre, completely transforming the area, making
it a safe and attractive area for residents and the local
For more information on the Rowley Court Scheme contact Nathan
McNulty at South Derbyshire District Council Nathan.McInulty@south-derbys.gov.uk