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Top award for pioneering council homes

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Swansea Council has won a top UK award for building a new generation of council homes that are among the most energy-efficient in the country.

Innovative energy-saving technology has been used to create eighteen ‘homes as power stations’ in Colliers Way, Penlan, that generate their own power to keep fuel bills as low as possible.

Now the project has been recognised as the best new-build housing initiative by a local authority in the UK at the prestigious Apse Service Awards, 2021.

Tenants have already moved into the properties which are part of Swansea Council’s ambition to invest millions of pounds building more than 1,000 new homes for city residents over the next 10 years.

Andrea Lewis, deputy leader of the council and Cabinet member for Homes, Energy and Service Transformation, said: “The Colliers Way project has been ground-breaking in every sense. We’re thrilled that our innovative approach to house-building has been recognised by our peers.

“This new generation of homes as power stations use innovative technology to generate power, keep bills down and contribute to our ambition to be a zero carbon council.

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“This award reflects an incredible effort by our teams in Housing and building services to realise the ambition of creating a new generation of affordable for-rent homes that really are leading the way in energy-efficiency.”

Some of the completed homes at Colliers Way (Image: Swansea Council)

She said: “It’s a win for tenants because they enjoy lower fuel bills now. But it’s also a win for the environment and future generations as just one of our contributions to helping tackle climate change.

“The homes are among the most energy-efficient anywhere in Wales and we’re hoping the Apse award will encourage other local authorities to learn from us and follow our lead in the years ahead.”

The council was also shortlisted at the APSE awards for ‘Council of the Year’, for ‘Best Service Team Housing & Construction’ and for ‘Best commercialisation and Entrepreneurship initiative’.

Cllr Andrea Lewis at the official opening of the Colliers Way homes last year with Lord Mayor of Swansea Cllr Mark Child (Image: Swansea Council)

Cllr Lewis said: “Being shortlisted in four categories at the awards reflect Swansea’s commitment to implementing innovative ideas, and excellence in public service delivery across a range of frontline services.

“It was the second time in recent years we have been nominated for Council of the Year award and goes a long way to illustrate our continued efforts to maintain the highest standards we can across the Council and for everyone in the city to benefit from our hard work.

“It’s important to also recognise that the award and nominations came at a time when councils around the country have had to deal with the added pressures the pandemic has brought with it and throughout this we have been able to continue providing high quality services.

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“These are great achievements and they’re ones we’re immensely proud of.”

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Property

Take a first look at the new homes planned for Townhill

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A series of CGI pictures from Pobl Group show the planned transformation of the former University Saint David’s Townhill Campus in Swansea.

Pobl Group have awarded the demolition contract to Morganstone Ltd., and work has already begun to remove all the asbestos from the site and to demolish buildings in readiness for its redevelopment.

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The impressive Edwardian college building will be preserved, turning it into one and two-bedroom apartments through a sensitive conversion and extension of this landmark building, offering spectacular views over Swansea Bay.

Artist’s impression of the new homes by Pobl on the junction of Pantycelen Road and Townhill Road on the site of the former UWTSD campus (Image: Pobl)
Artist’s impression of the new homes by Pobl on the site of the former UWTSD campus (Image: Pobl)
Artist’s impression of the new homes by Pobl on the site of the former UWTSD campus (Image: Pobl)
Artist’s impression of the new homes by Pobl on the site of the former UWTSD campus (Image: Pobl)
Artist’s impression of the new homes by Pobl on the site of the former UWTSD campus (Image: Pobl)

When complete, the site will feature 160 homes for shared ownership, rental and outright sale, with a mixture of 1 & 2 bed apartments, and 2, 3 and 4 bed houses.

Kate Sinclair, Senior Project Manager, said: “Our vision for this new development is to transform the former campus site and deliver a high-quality mixed tenure development designed to make the most of the views and other qualities of the site. At Pobl, placemaking is central to all that we do, and we plan to conserve and maintain a large proportion of mature parkland and open space to benefit both the new residents and existing adjacent community.”

(Lead image: Pobl)

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Property

1 in 5 young people in Wales are not confident they will ever be able to own their own home

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Twenty percent of the next generation in Wales claim they are not confident they will ever be able to buy their own home due to the rising cost of house buying, new research has revealed

The data shows Wales is the least confident region in the whole of the UK.

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Despite four in five 18-35s year olds nationally actively saving to put down a deposit within the next five years, at least a third claim they won’t be able to meet this target, according to the poll commissioned by home insurance company Urban Jungle.

And so to achieve their goals, a quarter of 18-35s said they would move abroad whilst a similar number said they are preparing to move out of their preferred city to a rural area in order to put down a deposit. For half of 18-35 year olds, they would also relocate in order to put down a deposit.  

Jimmy Williams, CEO of Urban Jungle commented: “It is a huge shame to see that so many young people in Wales are not confident that they will be able to own their own home. 

“We are all familiar with the Boomerang Generation, but the effects of the pandemic seem to have introduced a new trend – the ‘Catapult Kids’. 

“Rising property prices and living costs appear to be the main factors for this. At Urban Jungle, we want our customers to be prepared financially for their future, by offering fair and affordable insurance. 

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“A lot of young people have been disadvantaged since the pandemic began, and we need to ensure this generation is set up for the next chapter of their lives.” 

As well as house price increases, the rising cost of living means that home buyers are finding it harder to save their hard-earned money for factors on top of a house deposit, from repair necessities to surveyor fees – only 27% of young Brits say they save as much as they would like compared to before the pandemic.

The data showed that 84% of 18-35 year olds who have managed to take the first step onto the property ladder have been surprised with hidden costs when moving house, with 30% of respondents saying legal fees were the biggest shock of all.

There are also other elements new homeowners are having to consider when saving to buy their home. The survey reveals 81% of Brits don’t even factor in decoration costs when saving for their home, and only 23% consider home and contents insurance in their spending pot for their new home. 

(Lead image: Geograph)

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Towering crane shows progress at the Palace

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Swansea has a new tall crane on the cityscape, showing that progress is being made on the transformation of the historic Palace Theatre building.

The temporary new landmark is part of work by South Wales-based contractor R&M Williams Ltd on behalf of Swansea Council.

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The 134-year-old grade two listed building is being transformed sensitively into a home to tech, start-up and creative businesses.

The six-storey flatiron-shaped structure was acquired by the council from private owners around two years ago; it had fallen into disrepair and was in danger of being lost.

Work began on site in the autumn and the building could reopen next year. The project is being assisted with funding from the Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns programme.

The council has appointed Tramshed Tech as the lead tenant to run the building.

Council leader Rob Stewart said: “It’s great to see another towering crane on Swansea’s skyline – it shows that regeneration here is moving at pace, making Swansea a place where business, families and individuals want to be.

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“This excellent council project will bring new life to one of the city’s most iconic buildings.”

Palace Theatre prior to the start of renovation work starting (Image: Swansea Council)
Artist’s impression of what the interior of the Palace will look like (Image: Swansea Council)

Cabinet member Robert Francis-Davies said: “I’m delighted that work on prestigious project is progressing well.”

As a theatre, the Palace staged performances with the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Sir Anthony Hopkins.

However, under private ownership, it fell into disuse; it became derelict.

It is being transformed sensitively by R&M Williams Ltd who have a track record of working with heritage buildings, including £4m refurbishment projects at the grade two listed Penarth Pier Pavilion and Empire House, an iconic 1920s Cardiff landmark.

Early work being assisted by the crane includes installing a temporary roof.

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This will enable the removal of the existing, dilapidated roof and, in due course, the installation of a new roof. 

The temporary roof will provide protection to the building once the existing roof is removed.

The crane is also assisting with lifting materials to high levels due to the restricted access around the site.

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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