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Money to be spent on improving Matlock housing estate with "massive social issues"

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019 5:50pm

By Eddie Bisknell- Local Democracy Reporter @EddieBisk

Matlock's Hurst Farm Estate- Image taken from Google Maps

A district council is to spend £100,000 on a dilapidated and tired housing estate to improve energy efficiency of the homes and help residents respect where they live.

Derbyshire Dales District Council’s community and environment committee approved the spend on Matlock’s Hurst Farm Estate last week (Thursday, February 21).

The 600-house estate was largely built in the 1950s.

Houses on the site are now classed as “non-traditional”.

Many of the estate’s residents fall into the category of fuel poverty and it sits within the top 10 per cent of the most deprived wards in England.

The district council has been seeking improvements on the estate for more than two decades, largely pushed ahead by the authority’s head of housing, Robert Cogings, and head of regulatory services, Tim Braund.

Mr Cogings said at the meeting: “Housing in this country should be viewed as a national asset, but it is just not invested in enough.

“At the current rate, the stock of houses being built now will have to last as long as the pyramids.

“There are massive social issues to address on the estate, children on the estate can’t speak or eat properly due to poor parenting.

“There is drug-dealing on the playground, it should not be ok that that is allowed to happen.”

Mr Braund said: “The cost for these people to heat their homes is more than they can afford.”

In the past few years, the district council, working with other organisations, has gained £100,000 from the Government’s Estate Regeneration Fund, the district council has spent £21,525, and housing association Waterloo Housing Group has won £90,000 from the Estate Regeneration Fund.

All of this is to help improve the estate – from visual improvements to social ones.

Now the district council has added a further £100,000 to this pot to make improvements to the final 43 remaining “non-traditional” homes so that they are more energy efficient, and affordable to heat.

The aim of the district council and other organisations, including the police, health bodies and housing providers, is to look at the many complex underlying issues on the estate.

This includes the physical infrastructure of the estate (parking, road surfacing, green spaces and maintenance), as well as the social issues such as health, fuel poverty, education and employment.

It aims to support the development of community assets like the community centre, the school and the social club and the creation of more local employment and training opportunities.

A report on the estate reads: “Despite approaches to the Government, there simply is not the funding to fully modernise the non-traditional properties.

“At today’s prices, it is estimated that over £2 million would be needed.

“Several projects have started, including the Community Café, support for the Social Club, with a detailed stock condition survey and a recent bid for government grant to improve the Spider Park.”

After World War II, at a time of labour and building material shortages, successive governments commissioned significant house building programmes using new methods of system-built construction – now classed as “non-traditional”.

Many of these homes were later found to be defective.

During the 1980s, councils across the country accessed government grants to reinstate many of the defective homes.

The homes are difficult to heat and typically only sell for cash at auction – for around £70,000, the council report states.

This leaves owners of non-traditional homes in a property with a low market value, high energy bills and improvement costs beyond their reach.

Even when fully reinstated, such properties still only sell for around £125,000, the report states.

Full modernisation of the 43 remaining non-traditional properties would cost £51,000 per house – but funding for this is not available.

Instead, between £5,000 and £7,000 will be spent on each house. They would then be able to attract further energy efficiency grant funding of around £2,100 per house.

This would bring them, says Mr Cogings from pre-1970s up to modern-day standards.

The report states: “Previously, private sector house condition surveys have shown that excess cold is the most prevalent housing hazard in the stock across the district.

“This reflects the age of much of the private sector stock and the construction methods in use at the time that those properties were built.

“It is estimated that 10.9 per cent of the households across the district meet the official definition to be considered living in fuel poverty.”

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