Wrexham Council’s Executive Board has approved £54m investment, aimed at upgrading its housing stock…
Wrexham Council’s ambitious project to modernize its entire housing stock has a received a massive boost after a record £54m investment was approved by the Council’s Executive Board.
The local authority said that the spending programme agreed for 2016/17 will ensure that work remains on schedule to bring every property up to the Welsh Government’s Welsh Housing Quality Standard.
The Welsh Housing Quality Standard acts as the benchmark for the quality and condition of social housing in Wales. All social housing landlords are required to achieve the standard by 2020.
With 11,300 properties, Wrexham Council is the third largest social landlord in Wales after Cardiff and Swansea.
Wrexham Council’s Lead Member for Housing, Cllr Ian Roberts, commented, “2016 looks set to be a very positive year for social housing in Wrexham. Last year, we invested over £40m in improvement works and this has allowed us to modernize thousands of properties. The £54m agreed for 2016/17 means we will have invested over £90m in total since 2015. This is allowing us to carry out the most significant programme of improvements this area has seen for decades. The recent figures for completed properties show that we are well on track to achieve the Welsh Housing Quality Standard by 2020.”
Wrexham Council’s comprehensive modernization project includes offering a new kitchen and bathroom to every property where they do not currently meet the standard. Other internal and external improvements such as electrical rewiring, new central heating systems, roofing and insulation work will also be carried out where required.
Wrexham Council says the £54m budget for the coming financial year will fund, amongst other works:
• 2,500 properties offered new kitchens and bathrooms
• 600 properties being offered new heating systems
• Around 900 properties being rewired
• Over 750 properties being reroofed
• 187 properties having External Insulation fitted
The work will also include installing External Wall Insulation on over 1,500 non-traditional properties in the County Borough by 2020.
Cllr Ian Roberts continued “This investment has given us an opportunity to improve entire streets, both inside and outside the properties, and make them fit for the future. The villages of Cefn and Johnstown, for example, are home to hundreds of non-traditional, steel framed properties. We’ve installed External Wall Insulation on these properties over the last 12 months. This has made them much more efficient to heat and they also look like brand new properties from the outside which is great news for our tenants.”
Cllr Roberts continued, “The Welsh Housing Quality Standard is about ensuring that tenants can live in safe, comfortable homes but we also want to go the extra mile with the quality and design of the work we are carrying out. Tenants are given a choice of designs to choose from for their new kitchens and bathrooms and we’ve worked hard on the look of the External Wall Insulation, adding brick slips and simple but effective features to enhance their appearance. The results in Cefn and Johnstown look fantastic and there will be hundreds more properties receiving this work as the programme moves through the County Borough.”
The £54m includes a £7.5m grant, the Major Repairs Allowance, which the Welsh Government awards to local authorities to support them achieving the Welsh Housing Quality Standard.
Work is set to continue beyond 2017 to ensure any remaining properties achieve the standard by 2020.
The local economy has also received a boost from the housing improvement work, thanks to Community Benefit clauses which require all contractors carrying out housing improvement work to contribute ‘something extra’ back into the local economy. This can include taking on local labour, apprentices, purchasing supplies from local businesses.
To date, Community Benefit schemes have resulted in:
• Over 60 apprentices now employed across all the Housing Service’s contractors,
• 114 weeks of work experience provided
• 36 employees provided with short term employment
• 34 employees provided with long term employment.
• £63,197 has been donated as cash or in-kind to organizations or projects within Wales
Wrexham County Borough Council