A year into a three-year, £8.9m regeneration project, the scaffolding has been peeled away to reveal the first phase of work on a Sleaford council housing scheme.
Newfield Road, whose properties were constructed in 1928, has seen some demolition to make way for North Kesteven District Council’s biggest-ever capital investment project to adapt the street to modern standards.
Six of the 70 houses have been removed, opening up space for 18 additional houses to be built in oversized rear gardens – these include two and three bedroom family homes and bungalows. There will be a new street layout to make it safer and more attractive and a play area will be added.
Each of the houses is being extended, enlarged, reconfigured and given enhanced external insulation and cladding to make them cheaper and more comfortable to live in.
Residents have moved out while work is ongoing to the first two phases. NKDC project manager Scott Masterman said they are working across four phases on the site with the first phase being most advanced, due for completion in the spring. Work is progressing on phase two, on the same side of the street. Phases three and four opposite will come later.
Mr Masterman said: “It has come a long way since the demolition days. Phase one now gives you a sneak peek at how the whole estate will look, breaking up the street scene with areas of timber effect cladding, porches and canopies and different colours and renders to give a feel of a ‘new build’ development.”
One option offered to tenants was whether they wanted two or three bedrooms in their properties, which ended up a fairly even split. This has required reconfiguring of walls which has encountered a number of challenges due to the age of the properties. They have removed the chimney breasts from properties in the first phase to make more room, but this has led to time consuming, complex work. After consultation with residents, the team have opted not to remove the chimney breasts from the next three phases, although they will remove chimney stacks.
Mr Masterman said: “We are replacing windows and doors, have completely rewired properties and put new heating supply pipes in as well. It is a considerable amount of work.”
NKDC executive board member for housing, Coun Ogden said it will hopefully turn one of the council’s worst sites into their best. After encountering problems on this first phase they will now be better prepared.
Mr Masterman showed how all rooms have been renovated and replastered with a lot of work done to remedy problems with damp caused by a lack of cavity wall insulation.
A new prevention system has been installed to keep the ground water out of properties while the properties will be brought up to modern build efficiency standards.
New external insulation has helped prevent rooms being made smaller as the main gripe about the narrow terraced properties was lack of internal space. To the rear, the cramped kitchens have been vastly extended into kitchen/dining areas by way of a flat roofed addition topped by long-lasting zinc flashing rather than traditional felt.
The extra space has allowed for a downstairs shower room and a small study room too. To the rear are French doors onto the garden.
Coun Ogden added: “We want these properties to last so we will save in the long term with minimal maintenance. We do not want to be back here in 10 years saying what we should have done.”
As considerate contractors, during the wetter months they scrub the roads twice a day and use a street sweeper each week.
Mr Masterman said: “We meet the residents on a regular basis.” They have set up a cosy little visitor centre where tenants can go to ask questions or to choose colours and styles for their new kitchen surfaces, cupboards and carpeting.
Mr Masterman went on: “We had a Christmas community event with games, baking and Christmas card making and as 50 per cent of the street are young tenants we have had school holiday activities to keep them occupied while advising them about staying safe around the works.”
He said they have welcomed engagement with neighbours to allay any concerns. He said the neighbouring properties still had a good distance of back garden to buffer them from the new homes and no windows overlook.
He said. “They are seeing we are investing in improving the infrastructure of the area.”
Coun Ogden said: “They have scored excellently in the considerate constructor’s scheme. In one category of respecting the community we scored nine out of 10, which is nice to have this early in the project and is never easy doing a messy building project in an occupied area.”