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South Derbyshire DC tackle empty homes to provide affordable housing 08/12/2016

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
  • Rewire
  • 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 landscape gardens.

 

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 community.

  

For more information on the Rowley Court Scheme contact Nathan McNulty at South Derbyshire District Council Nathan.McInulty@south-derbys.gov.uk

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