May 01, 2017 Last Updated 10:20 AM, Apr 28, 2017

Locl authorities think long-term

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Since 2012 local authorities have been developing 30 year asset management plans and business plans while also adjusting to the introduction of a new self-financing system. These changes have contributed to a new-look social housing sector, one which is focussed on the future.

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As part of this future-proof approach to planning product lifecycles and component depreciation are high on the agenda, with maintenance playing an increasingly important role.

Previously capital works could only be planned one year at a time, while procurement and specification decisions were also constrained by annual budgets. Price versus specification was the dominant factor driving decision making. Instead, landlords now have to think 20 or 30 years ahead, and that means a balancing act!

Lifelong maintenance costs and product guarantees have to be factored in, alongside initial outlay, specification, energy efficiency, environmental credentials, tenant usability and of course, product lifecycle.

Carmarthenshire County Council is one such local authority which is balancing its landlord obligation with the demand for long-term planning and asset management. Owning and managing a housing stock of approximately 9000 homes; Carmarthenshire County Council has been a pioneering force for the Welsh Government receiving recognition for its creative approach to new build housing. Welsh Government Housing and Regeneration Minister, Carl Sargeant said: “Providing quality affordable homes to people across Wales is a Welsh Government priority and I’m pleased to see this commitment being delivered in Carmarthenshire.”

Alleviating pressures

Earlier this summer the County Council completed a new build development across two sites. Main contractor WRW Construction built 12 two-bedroom bungalows in Seaside, Llanelli and Morfa Maen, Kidwelly on behalf of the local authority.

The original homes provided sheltered accommodation for people over 50; these were demolished to make way for the brand new, energy efficient and well-insulated homes. Throughout the planning process the County Council had to ensure that the new bungalows catered for the needs of older or disabled people.

While energy efficiency and performance played a large part in the specification process, maintenance was also a key factor. Wear and tear of everyday life can cause a myriad of maintenance issues on the inside of a property but externally, there are a number of products and materials which can alleviate the pressure of associated maintenance costs and dedicated resource.

Thermal performance

Renowned for its long-life, low-maintenance qualities PVC-U casement windows were installed in the 12 new build bungalows. These were supplied by PVC-U window, door and curtain walling specialist Profile 22 via its approved window contractor Nolan uPVC, based in south Wales.

Designed by architects, Lewis Partnership Ltd, the bungalows were built in accordance with the Code for Sustainable Homes, achieving a Code level 4. In-line with level 4 specification the windows achieve a U-value of 1.6W/m2K, with the disabled bungalow achieving 1.4W/m2K; contributing to the overall efficiency and thermal performance of each bungalow. Using Profile 22 FC60 in white, the casement windows are fitted with a single side opener. Nolan uPVC also supplied white composite doors, front and back.

The Profile 22 approved window contractor was appointed by WRW Construction. Andrew Collins, construction manager for WRW heralded the supply chain partnership a great success. He said: “This was the first time that I had worked with Nolan uPVC and Profile 22, and I am happy to say that the whole process was excellent. The quality of the product is first class and communication during the manufacturing process was also very good.

“The products were delivered to site when requested and in accordance with our tight timescales. It must also be noted that the installation team were very helpful, safety aware and the quality of workmanship an exceptionally high standard.” The bungalows have been well received locally, and the tenants are extremely happy with the improvements. Commenting on the project and the Council’s commitment to providing long-lasting, good quality and future-proof homes for its tenants, housing services manager for Carmarthenshire County Council, Jonathan Morgan said: “We are delighted that the new bungalows have been completed and the tenants are enjoying the benefits of their new homes. The Council is committed to providing excellent quality homes that will bring significant benefits in terms of health and general well-being for households.”

To encourage community engagement the Council invited children from local primary schools to name the two sites. The winners were Heol Losin Du – relating to a local nursery rhyme, and Clos Y Gilfach, which translates as ‘by the sea’.

Best use of resources

The £1.5m scheme forms part of a wider development which will see further affordable housing built across the county. Completed over a 12 month period the development forms part of the County Council’s 10 year new build programme; aiding delivery of the Carmarthenshire Homes Standard Plus.

Welsh Government Housing and Regeneration Minister, Carl Sargeant continues: “I’ve set a revised target of 10,000 new affordable homes over this term of Government and to support delivery against this ambitious target I want to see examples such as this replicated across the country.

“The development has comes as a result of the local authority being truly innovative and creative in how they can deliver much needed affordable housing in the area. It’s a great example of a council making best use of the resources they have at their disposal to support people and provide first class housing for the community.”

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