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Redevelopment to bring 12 more homes for older people in Ystradgynlais

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Work has begun on redeveloping and extending the Pont Aur housing complex in Ystradgynlais.

Pobl’s accommodation for older people on Ynyscedwyn Road is being extended and will provide ExtraCare housing for the first time in the south of Powys, in a £5.5m partnership project between Powys County Council and Pobl Group.

Jehu Group has been awarded the contract to carry out the construction work. This will see the upgrading of existing sheltered housing accommodation, including the introduction of the ExtraCare element to accommodate local people with some or no care needs. The scheme will add 12 more homes for local older people in an extension to the existing building.

ExtraCare delivers modern purpose-built accommodation which has 24-hour care and support available on site to meet the needs and changing expectations of residents, allowing them to live as independently as possible in their own homes with their own front door. 24-hour care services are located on site, couples and friends can stay together and there is a mix of people with differing levels of need, including those who are living independently.

All ExtraCare apartments will have accessible bedrooms, sitting room, separate kitchen area and walk-in shower with the overall development having communal spaces, community alarms and access to technology enabled care.

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Cllr. Iain McIntosh is the Cabinet Member with responsibility for Housing with Powys council. He commented: “We carried out research into what kind of older people’s accommodation we needed in Powys in 2018 and this project grew out of that work. I am really pleased to see this project get underway as the ExtraCare element will provide a new kind of provision for the Ystradgynlais community.”

Cllr Myfanwy Alexander, Powys Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “We are all pleased to see the start of the Pont Aur ExtraCare development, involving the upgrading of existing homes and the introduction of twelve new homes for local older people. Powys County Council is committed to giving our residents real housing choices at every stage of their lives. By providing Extra Care Housing at PontAur, we are offering flexible housing solutions for local people to meet their changing needs.”

Marc Jehu, Group CEO Construction commented: “Jehu are pleased to have been appointed as the contractor for the Pont Aur development. We are delighted to be working with both Powys County Council and Pobl Group and we understand that this project forms part of a wider health and care strategy, so the ExtraCare facility and the 12 new homes will add greatly to the needs of the older generation in Ystradgynlais.”

Adam Roberts, Head of Development – West at Pobl Group said: “We’re delighted to see work getting underway at Pont Aur, and are looking forward to working in partnership with JEHU and Powys County Council to create more homes that meet the needs of Ystradgynlais.

“At Pobl, we are committed to creating genuinely great places to live that stand the test of time and enhance the local community, and we will continue to work with the existing residents of Pont Aur to ensure that they are engaged throughout the redevelopment.”

(All images: Pobl Group)

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Construction

Construction work soon to start on Swansea’s ‘living building’ at former Oxford Street Woolworths site

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With main construction work due to start in the coming weeks, city leaders have visited the Swansea site where a major new ‘living building’ project will soon be taking shape.

Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Council Leader, and Julie James, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Climate Change, were talked through details and timescales for the development, which will be located at the former Woolworths unit on Oxford Street.

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Earmarked for completion by the end of 2023, Swansea-based Hacer Developments is behind the scheme, which is one of the first of its kind in the UK.

Made up of the former Woolworths unit and a new adjoining 13-storey structure, the ‘living building’ will include green walls and green roofs, an educational facility, retail, offices, a landscaped courtyard, rooftop solar panels, battery storage and gardens. Pobl Group will manage 50 affordable apartments forming part of the scheme.

Other scheme features include an urban farm-style greenhouse set over four floors. Plants and vegetables will be grown in water and fed by waste pumped from fish tanks at the bottom of the building.

A green walkway including seating through the building will link Oxford Street to a new public space leading to the 71/72 Kingsway scheme being developed by Swansea Council.

Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Council Leader, and Julie James, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Climate Change, were talked through details and timescales for the development, which will be located at the former Woolworths unit on Oxford Street. (Image: Swansea Council)

Stripping-out and demolition works have now been completed at the ‘living building’ site, paving the way for main construction to begin.

The visit also included a tour of the new 33-apartment building at the city’s Copr Bay district developed by Swansea Council, which is set for completion this summer.

To be run by Pobl Group and located close to the new bridge over Oystermouth Road, the affordable apartments will cater for local people working in the city centre, with a particular focus on key workers. 

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Climate Change Minister Julie James said: “What we have seen through this work is an excellent example of the affordable homes we need to build in Wales.

“These new homes in the heart of Swansea city centre will make a huge difference to the quality of living for so many people.

“We need to see more projects like this delivered across the country as we strive to become a stronger, greener, fairer Wales.”

Cllr Stewart said: “Led by Hacer Developments, the exciting ‘living building’ scheme follows on from our work to transform the look and feel of The Kingsway.

“It will create jobs for local people while helping Swansea in its drive to become a net zero city, complementing the nearby office development at the former Oceana nightclub site that will be carbon zero in operation.

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“The residential element of the scheme will also meet the city’s accommodation needs by creating more affordable living opportunities in the city centre. This is also the case for the apartment building at the Copr Bay district developed by the council, which will benefit from excellent links with the new coastal park adjacent to Swansea Arena.”

Carwyn Davies, Managing Director of Hacer Developments, said: “We’re delighted that main construction work will soon start on the highly innovative ‘living building’ project, but it wouldn’t be possible without the support of the many partners involved, including Swansea Council, the Welsh Government, Pobl, the Development Bank of Wales, Swansea University and Cardiff University  – as well as our fantastic design and site team.”

The visit also included a tour of the new 33-apartment building at the city’s Copr Bay district developed by Swansea Council, which is set for completion this summer. (Image: Swansea Council)

Claire Tristham, Director of Developments at Pobl Group, said: “Pobl has a growing reputation for delivering forward-thinking housing solutions that push the boundaries.

“We are excited to be working with Hacer on this innovative project that will deliver much-needed, high-quality, affordable homes for Swansea and support the council’s wider regeneration plans for the city centre.

“Support from the council and Welsh Government has been critically important to this development, so we were delighted to able to welcome the Minister on site to officially launch the start of work on this truly unique project.”

The ‘living building’ is being funded by a mixture of private sector funding and funding from the Welsh Government’s Innovative Housing Programme, Pobl and the Development Bank of Wales.

Set to accommodate 600 workers, the nearby office development at the former Oceana nightclub site – due for completion in the summer of 2023 – is being funded by Swansea Council and the Swansea Bay City Deal. It is also being supported by the European Regional Development Site through the Welsh Government.

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The Copr Bay phase one district has been developed by Swansea Council, supported by development managers RivingtonHark. Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd is leading on its construction.

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Housebuilder reports “exceptional demand” as Aberavon development launched

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“Exceptional demand” has been reported as the first homes at a new development on Aberavon seafront were released for sale.

All appointments were fully booked on Saturday as Persimmon Homes West Wales opened the doors to the sales office.

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Two homes were purchased at the Awel Afan development and a further 10 reserved on the Early Bird scheme over a busy weekend.

A total of 137 homes are being built on the former Afan Lido Leisure Centre site on Princess Margaret Way.

Sharon Bouhali, Sales Director at Persimmon Homes West Wales, said: “We’re pleased to have launched our Awel Afan site.

“The demand has been exceptional. Right from the moment we acquired the site and announced the plans, we have seen a phenomenal amount of interest from a wide range of people wanting to live in his amazing location.

“The housing market remains buoyant in West Wales but, even so, the buzz around Awel Afan is almost unprecedented.”

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Opened by the Queen in the 1970s, the Afan Lido was destroyed in a fire in 2009 and the site has been unused since.

Persimmon say the development will bring a massive boost to the local economy through the construction industry and its multiplier effect. According to figures from the House Builders Federation, for every £1 spent on housing, £3 goes back into the economy.

The national house builder says that each home built also creates 1.5 full-time direct jobs – and at least twice that number in the supply chain.

The development will be made up of two, three and four-bedroom houses, as well as a range of two-bedroom flats.

Homes currently on sale include the popular two-bedroom terraced Alnwick with its modern open plan kitchen/diner and the four-bedroom detached Hornsea with ensuite and integral garage.

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Persimmon Homes recently supported Afan Lido Girls FC with a game-changing grant of £20,000 through its Building Futures campaign.

(Lead image: Persimmon Homes)

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Time to raise the bar on Wales’ housing standards says Minister

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Welsh Government Minister Julie James has announced the upcoming launch of a consultation on proposed new social housing quality standard for Wales.

The Minister said the Welsh Housing Quality Standard 2023 (WHQS 2023) would ‘build on the excellent achievements of its predecessor’ – the standard introduced in 2002.

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Since then, the Welsh Government has worked with social landlord delivery partners to invest billions of pounds to significantly improve and maintain the quality of social homes across Wales.

As a result, by the end of 2020, 99 per cent of social housing in Wales met the original WHQS – a standard which is more demanding than in the other home nations.

Speaking in the Senedd, the Minister said: “Reflecting on the levels of achievement of the current standard, I am sure members will agree that, after 20 years, the standard is due to be reviewed, especially to acknowledge the considerable changes to how people live, work and feel about their homes.

“The world has moved on apace in the last 20 years and our expectation of our homes has moved on too.

“The proposed standard aims to be bold but ultimately achievable. We aim with our consultation to ensure that the voice of the sector is taken into account in finalising these standards and getting them right.

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“Setting standards is not an easy business at the best of times. It is even more challenging setting standards relating to the decarbonisation of homes – which is a developing area where we are learning what works best on an ongoing basis.

“The £220m committed over this term of government to the Optimised Retrofit Programme, our whole house, pragmatic, approach to decarbonising existing homes will help.

“It will provide some of the answers to how we effectively and efficiently reduce carbon emissions from homes in line with our Net Zero Wales plan.

“However, in the face of the climate change emergency we cannot stand still, and we must continue to push progress and set standards to address decarbonisation through a variety of measures in existing social housing.”

More than 900 tenants have been involved in the development of the new standard and technical elements have been supported by experts who have looked at what else is happening across the UK and the rest of the world.

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The Minister added: “I make no apology for proposing what some will see as a bold approach, I am determined the standards bar should be raised again.

“Meeting our Net Zero Wales targets requires us to make determined progress and I believe these standards are fit to take us forward in that regard.

“Our social housing tenants deserve these standards to be the best we can make them.

“My firm hope is that these standards will not only be brought to bear for social housing, but that in the future other tenures may consider how they too might meet and exceed these expectations.”

The proposed WHQS 2023 standards will be published for consultation from Wednesday May 11 and will be open for stakeholders to respond to for 12 weeks.

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