Friday, August 10, 2012

Kier North Tyneside completes work on the final Decent Homes refurbishments in North Tyneside

Five years ago, local authorities were challenged to ensure that all of their council housing met the Decent Homes Standard by the end of 2010.

The basic principles of the Decent Homes Standard are:

It must meet the current statutory minimum standard for housing. Homes below this standard are those defined as unfit.

It must be in a reasonable state of repair. Homes which fail to meet this standard are those where either one or more of the key building components are old and, because of their condition, need replacing or major repair; or two or more of the other building components are old and, because of their condition, need replacing- or major repair

It must have reasonably modern facilities and services. Homes which fail to meet this standard are those which don't have three or more of the following:
- Reasonably modern kitchen (20-years-old or less)
- A kitchen with adequate space and layout
- A reasonably modern bathroom (30-years-old or less)
- An appropriately located bathroom and WC
- Adequate insulation against external noise (where external noise is a problem)
- Adequate size and layout of common areas for blocks of flats

It provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort. This means that your home must have both effective insulation and efficient heating

Thanks to the council's 'Better Homes - Better Lives' programme, 8,359 properties in North Tyneside have benefited from a total investment of £150million in its housing stock. And on Friday 10 December, a property in Wallsend was the 8,360th and final home to undergo refurbishment work.

Tenant Diane Harbour, 46, is delighted with the work that has been carried out. She said: "The improvements to my home have been fantastic. The final works are now taking place as I'm getting new windows fitted, but since I moved in back in March 2007, I've had plenty of other improvements, such as new kitchen, bathroom, doors and radiators.

"All of the council staff and builders have been fantastic. They've respected me and respected my home, and kept me up to date with all of the jobs scheduled to take place, which have been carried out exactly when they said they would be. Also, I've loved how I've been able to make decisions with regards to design and layout, from choosing colours of paints to picking where I wanted my washing machine- it's those personal touches that make the property feel like home.

North Tyneside Elected Mayor Linda Arkley said: "I'm delighted that the work, on behalf of our tenants to bring housing up to the Decent Homes Standards with modern facilities, is almost complete. Our tenants deserve to have decent housing and this work has helped improve the quality of life for people living in the borough. Now our aim is to maintain the standard of these homes, which we will do through continued investment and by working closely with our tenants."

Kier North Tyneside is a joint venture company (JVCo) formed between North Tyneside Council and Kier Building Maintenance to deliver a repairs and maintenance service for North Tyneside's social housing and public buildings.

John Norton, Kier North Tyneside operations director, said: "We are proud to have been part of a project which will benefit local residents for years to come. By working in partnership with our colleagues at North Tyneside Council, we believe we have made a real difference in improving the quality of life for people across the region. We have been working on improving homes through the Decent Homes programme since we started working with the council in September 2009, and it is testament to the team involved that this work has been completed on time and to budget."

Since March 2006, properties brought up to the Decent Home Standard have benefitted from a range of home improvements, including new kitchens, bathrooms, PVCU window and doors, electrical rewiring, central heating upgrades and roof covering replacements.

North Tyneside Council has also worked with its tenants to agree the quality and choice of fixtures and fittings installed in their homes to ensure it exceeds the government's minimum standards. Tenants have been able to choose different colours and styles of kitchen unit doors, worktops, wall tiles, taps, PVCU doors and gas or electric fires when completing work in their homes. Additionally, North Tyneside Council has focussed on improving the energy efficiency of its homes by installing a range of energy efficient products.

In conjunction with Warmzone, the local authority has put in cavity wall and loft insulation to reduce energy costs, as well as installing high efficiency condensing boilers and PVCU double glazed windows and doors, saving tenants over £8.9m in energy bills, along with reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 48.5 tonnes. And over the next five years, approximately £80m will be spent on maintaining properties to the Decent Homes standard.

In March 2006 the council had 9,392 non-decent properties, representing 58 per cent of its stock that failed the decent home standard. By the end of this year, the council will only have its sheltered units classed as non decent, amounting to six per cent of its stock, which are being addressed through the Quality Homes for Older People project.

Cllr John Goodfellow, cabinet member for Housing said: "The Quality Homes for Older People project is revitalising sheltered housing in North Tyneside and is ensuring the council meets the Decent Homes standard."

This programme is supported by £112.5m in PFI credits from the Government's Private Finance Initiative and will take place between 2011 and 2015.


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