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Sandwell Homes spend £31.5m on bringing kitchens into 21st Century

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Sandwell Homes spend £31.5m on bringing kitchens into 21st Century

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Published by walton for Sandwell Homes Limited in Housing and also in Communities, Local Government

Tenant Mrs Elcock cuts a cake in celebration of her new kitchen, which happened to be the 10,000th completed kitchen so far Tenant Mrs Elcock cuts a cake in celebration of her new kitchen, which happened to be the 10,000th completed kitchen so far

The Sandwell Decent Homes Partnership has completed its 10,000th kitchen refurbishment this month as part of the £425m Government Decent Homes Programme it is rolling out across the borough in partnership with Sandwell Homes.

The kitchens have been refurbished under the low-rise stream of Decent Homes work, and to date the company has spent £31.5m on kitchens alone since May 2005.

Meeting the 10,000th kitchen milestone is significant in demonstrating how social landlords such as Sandwell Homes are bridging the gap in standards of living and providing standard housing for those people living in council owned properties.

Photos of kitchens circa 1900, taken at the Black Country Living Museum, show how times have changed with the advent of fitted kitchens and social housing projects such as the Decent Homes programme.

David Eveleigh, resident expert at the museum said: “Historically, working class kitchens served as work areas for cooking, washing clothes, and even the taking of baths (for miners and others in dirty trades) whilst also providing family space for everyday living. In the back-to-back house this kitchen was the one downstairs room used by all the family and thus frequently the scene of overcrowding. By contrast, those in higher social classes had kitchens separate from the family parts of the house and the work was done by servants.

“The kitchen was labour intensive, requiring lighting each morning and usually weekly cleaning of soot and polishing with black lead grate polish. Cooking took place over the fire, baking was done in a small oven with no thermostatic control, and hot water came from being boiled requiring very different domestic skills from those of today.”

Kitchens at this time weren’t fitted either – that concept only arrived in the late 1930s – so the room was dominated by a table and chairs. Lighting was either by gas or paraffin lamp where gas was not laid on.

Simon Parry, head of partnership management for Sandwell Homes said: “Today, with a busy urban lifestyle, customers require efficient work spaces, and recipients of the Decent Homes improvements have benefited with the removal of walls to enlarge small kitchens, partial or full plastering of walls and ceilings, a choice of kitchen doors, floor tiles, worktops and wall tiles as well as wallpapers or paints, and even lever taps for those unable to use a standard tap.

“Significantly, with the cost of domestic technology now at relatively affordable rates, today’s kitchens require thought as to where white appliances i.e. cookers, dishwashers, washing machines, microwaves etc will be included and the Partnership go that extra mile, tailoring kitchens to meet their customer’s needs.”

Mrs Elcock, from Albright Road, Smethwick, was lucky enough to be the 10,000th tenant to receive her kitchen upgrade. She said: “I love my new kitchen, the Sandwell Decent Homes Partnership has done a really professional job. The kitchen is now larger than it was before, it has been completely rewired, and also has new tiles, flooring and radiators.”

The Sandwell Decent Homes Partnership is made up of Sandwell Homes, Taylor Woodrow, Connaught Partnerships, Wates Living Space, Lovell Partnerships, Thomas Vale Construction, Sandwell MBC Urban Design, and Rider Levett Bucknall.
 

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