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Friday, February 24, 2017

Exciting schemes planned for housing

New Council homes in Beechtrees and plans to install hundreds of new bathrooms form part of a series of exciting plans for West Lancashire Borough Council housing in 2017/18.

The schemes were approved at the Council meeting on 22 February 2017, when members met to agree the Housing Revenue Account budget for the 2017/18 financial year.

The Council’s Housing Account is funded from money raised through rents and service charges to provide services for Council tenants and leaseholders.

Decisions made by the government mean that the rents for Council tenants will reduce by 1% in 2017/18. This annual reduction of 1% will continue for tenants in both general needs and sheltered council accommodation until 2019/20.

The Council has worked hard to minimise the impact of this savings requirement and has agreed a budget that protects services and features exciting investment schemes next year.

The Beechtrees Revival scheme will see a host of improvements to the estate in Digmoor, Skelmersdale including 36 new homes being built.

This represents significant extra investment in the Revival Project, as the original plans included 14 new homes. The 22 extra new homes will be built on land where the Council plans to demolish an additional six detached blocks and is expected to start later in 2017. Landscaping works will be included around the newly-built houses to make the area look even more attractive.

These homes represent the third new batch of Council housing provided by the authority in recent years and the Council is looking at more opportunities to build new homes in the future.

Other improvements planned for the flats that will remain on Beechtrees will include new kitchens, bathrooms and heating, as well as replacement windows and doors.

Councillor Jennifer Patterson, portfolio holder for Housing and Landlord Services, said: “We are very excited about the updated Beechtrees Revival scheme. The additional homes means the scheme will have the biggest possible impact on the estate to help improve the lives of tenants.

“Revitalising our estates and improving homes are key priorities in the Council Plan. Despite the reductions in rent income the Council continues to invest substantial amounts in its housing stock to help improve the lives of tenants.”

The Housing and Inclusion programme for the next 12 months also includes a project on digital inclusion with West Lancashire Council for Voluntary Service. As more and more services are offered online this project will aim to help tenants and other residents become more digitally aware so they are able to make the most of the opportunities that being ‘connected’ has to offer.

The key schemes for 2017/18 include:

  • Installing 450 new bathrooms (these do not include the ones planned for Beechtrees)
  • Providing £642,000 to spend on disabled adaptations so people can live in their homes longer and have a better quality of life
  • Works worth £770,000 on remedial works to walls such as pointing and repairs
  • Spending £927,000 on upgrading electrics in many authority homes
  • Investing £1.286 million on roofing work, targeting flat roofs and replacing fascias and gutters
  • Investing £602,000 in improving heating systems in a number of council properties with more efficient modern systems
  • £293,000 for improvements for communal areas

Council tenants in flats which have communal heating systems will also benefit from a 2% reduction in heating charges.

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