Social housing properties set to be transformed

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Over 1,000 non-traditional social housing properties across Wrexham County Borough are set to receive a radical makeover and see a significant fall in their energy bills…

Wrexham Council’s Housing Department are carrying out an improvement works programme which will see External Wall insulation applied to its non-traditional houses. The process will involve applying a 100mm layer of insulation outside walls and elevations, resulting in more energy efficient properties which will be cheaper to heat.

The layer of insulation will then be covered in a specially designed render. The result of this will be that properties, which are nearly 60 years old in some cases, will effectively look like brand new buildings from the outside.

It is estimated that the entire work programme will be completed in 4 years.

Cefn Mawr is the latest area in Wrexham County Borough to benefit from the EWI scheme. Work there is already underway on 190 properties, which are due to receive the insulation this year.

Lead Member for Housing, Cllr Ian Roberts, commented, “This is the most significant programme of improvements these properties have received for several decades. We’ve seen homes where the work is nearly complete and the difference it’s made to the street is quite staggering. They really do look like new properties and that is great news for this community.”

The improvements are part of Wrexham Council’s Housing Service’s comprehensive modernization programme which aims to ensure that all 11,300 of the county borough’s social housing properties achieve the Welsh Government’s ‘Welsh Housing Quality Standard’ by the 2020 deadline.

Altogether, Wrexham owns some 1,647 Non Traditional Properties of 14 different types, spread over 26 locations around the Borough. 545 properties around the County Borough have already benefited from having External Wall Insulation (EWI) installed.

Most of Wrexham’s non-traditional properties were erected in the late 1940’s and 1950’s and through the 1960’s to tackle the huge post-war demand for housing.

Many non-traditional houses are now showing signs of age and are significantly less efficient at holding in heat than traditional brick houses. According to the Energy Saving Trust, around 45% of the heat lost in houses such as these is through the walls.

Applying External Wall Insulation should make the properties at least as efficient, if not more so, than traditional brick built homes. Tenants should see a significant fall in their energy bills as a result.

The Housing Service also plans to install new condenser boilers in any properties which do not already have one. It is estimated that these properties will make an annual saving of up to £400 on heating and lighting costs, once the work has been completed.

As well as helping the houses to hold in heat, installing External Wall Insulation will also help fill in cracks to reduce drafts and improve sound resistance, reduce co2 emissions, and increase the overall lifespan of the property by protecting the structure.

Cefn Councillor, Derek Wright commented, “Having watched the progress of the work being carried out on the non-traditional properties, it has brought a fresh look and impetus to the whole area. Hopefully something can be worked out for the owner occupiers of same properties to get assisted funding, grant or loan, to allow those who want this carried out on their houses to be done. I’m sure the properties will be far more energy efficient offering great saving to heating bills and hopefully increase the value of these houses.”

Local residents were also positive about the work, with one tenant claiming “The insulation is going to make a huge difference. Some of the steel houses are really showing their age now, but the designs I’ve seen for how our row of houses is going to look are lovely. They will look like new houses rather than traditional ‘council’ houses, and that will make such a difference to the community.”

Funding for the programme comes from the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) budget, and amounts to a total of £38m to be spent on housing improvement work in 2015/16. This is made up of a combination of capital receipts, revenue contribution, prudential borrowing, and an annual grant from the Welsh Government, known as the Major Repairs Allowance (MRA). This is a capital grant provided by Welsh Government to local authorities who have retained their council housing stock. MRA supports the achievement of the Welsh Housing Quality Standard, and for 2015/16, Wrexham Council has been awarded £7.5m.

Wrexham County Borough Council

www.wrexham.gov.uk

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