13th July 2022
Now more than ever it’s important for housing associations like Plus Dane to invest in our homes to make them warm, comfortable and safe for our customers, and continue to provide new affordable homes to meet the needs of our communities.
I’m pleased to say we are on track to invest more than £66m in our neighbourhoods this year through a mixture of building new homes and making improvements to our customer’s homes by replacing kitchens, bathrooms, windows and doors and introducing energy efficiency measures to make homes cheaper to heat.
We have a number of exciting new schemes underway, including a specialist extra care scheme on the famous Menlove Avenue in Liverpool, near the childhood home of John Lennon, where we are building more than 30 flats for over 55's.
We have also started work on a much-anticipated scheme of 39 one and two- bedroom flats on a piece of land in Crosby that has been derelict for more than a decade.
And work is now underway on the Alexandra Gardens development in Crewe, a joint project between Plus Dane and Watkin Jones of 245 new homes, 159 of these being affordable - more than double the required allocation of affordable housing for rent and for sale. We have been working hard to make these schemes a reality and we are proud of the quality of the design and efficiency standards, as well as the fact they are providing varied housing choice for the communities they are being built in.
An investment of £23m will be made in planned upgrades into existing homes as well as, delivering our responsive repairs service and making sure the necessary safety checks are carried out to keep customers safe.
We will also be investing £4.5m into those homes that become empty, so that we can turn them around quickly and welcome new customers into them.
We know the biggest concern for lots of customers now is the cost of energy bills – we will be working to make homes more energy efficient for customers while also meeting net zero carbon targets by 2050 and achieving a C rating on Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) across all homes by 2030.
We were recently successful in obtaining a £1m grant from the government’s Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund to help us work towards the targets. We’ve supplemented this funding with £1.7m of our own so that we can begin the work to improve the energy efficiency of 100 of our homes across Cheshire and Merseyside but we know, this will require significant and continued investment over the next two decades
Improvements will include established solutions such as external wall insulation and loft insulation. But we are also the first housing association to use a specialist technology framework, PfH Social Housing Emerging Disruptors (or SHED), that gives us access to new and innovative technologies including shared ground loops and ground source heat pumps. These have all been developed to make homes easier and cheaper to heat for customers. Our new extra care scheme in Liverpool is one of the places that will benefit from these, and we have already started using an underfloor robot – Q-Bot – to spray insulation under the floorboards of some of our older properties in Congleton as part of an exciting pilot project.
We are expecting these initiatives could save our customers hundreds of pounds a year in fuel bills.
As a Board, we are acutely aware of how worrying the current cost of living crisis is for our customers. Board members and colleagues from across Plus Dane are part of a task and finish group to look at the issue in more detail to understand what more we can do. We are talking to customers as part of this to inform any future actions that emerge from the group but we are committed to doing all we can and working with our partners to provide a range of support.
Sir Peter Fahy