Plans approved for specialist housing scheme in Chester-le-Street
Published by Craig Downs for Cestria Community Housing in Housing and also in Communities
An artist impression of the Elms which has now been approved by Durham County Council’s planning committee
Plans to build a specialist housing scheme for older people in the centre of Chester-le-Street have been approved by the planning committee at Durham County Council.
The Elms, which will consist of 57 new homes comprising of 6 two-bedroom self-contained bungalows and 51 apartments for the over 55’s, were approved at an area planning meeting yesterday (Thursday 19 December).
When complete, the scheme will also include a range of communal residential and support spaces within the main block and facilities that can be used by residents and the wider community including a beauty/treatment room, IT suite, internet café, laundry, community allotment and office/community exhibition space.
National housing and regeneration specialist, Keepmoat has been appointed as the preferred developer for the scheme, which has also received £1.76 million of funding from the Department of Health’s (DoH) Care and Support Specialised Housing Fund.
Work on the development, which is located south west of the town centre, is now expected to commence on site in February.
The scheme will consist of 47 two-bedroom apartments, 4 one-bedroom apartments, 2 two-bedroom detached bungalows and 4 two-bedroom semi-detached bungalows and has been designed to encourage healthy and active lifestyles.
To ensure the homes meet the changing needs of residents, all units within the scheme have been built to comply with a number of design standards, including the Habinteg Wheelchair Design Guide, Lifetime Homes and Design Quality Standards, and is expected to achieve BREEAM Very Good rating for its low carbon design.
Features including maximised natural light, adaptable communal spaces and access to outdoor space such as gardens and allotments have all been designed with residents’ wellbeing in mind.
The bathrooms have been designed with flush floor showers and can be adapted to meet each resident’s needs, while the kitchens will be fully fitted with a separate oven and hob and spaces for washer, drier/dishwasher and fridge freezer.
In addition to the communal gardens and allotment area, individual apartments and bungalows will have their own outside space such as a patio, balcony area or garden.
News that the plans have been approved has been welcomed by Cestria Community Housing’s chief executive, Paul Fiddaman. He said: “It has taken a lot of hard work to get to this stage of the process. We are delighted that the plans for the Elms have been approved and can now look forward to starting construction works in the new year.
“The concept behind the development really is revolutionary and will completely change not only the general perception of older people’s housing, but also the lifestyle and wellbeing of this demographic in the future.
“We recognise that locally there is a severe shortage of high-quality housing for the over 55s, and The Elms will go some way to meeting that strategic housing need.”
The development responds to the recommendations set out on ‘The HAPPI Report’ – a Government report which aims to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle for people aged 55 and over.
Lee Francis, Area Director from Keepmoat, said: “This is great news, not only for the people of Chester-le-Street but also the region. The Elms will help people to live independently by giving them high quality housing that meets their needs now and in the future.
“We are pleased planning has been approved as we can now get things moving and start on site in the New Year. The Elms is an exciting project and we are delighted to be working in partnership with Cestria Community Housing to deliver what will be a flagship scheme. I am sure The Elms will make a positive difference to older people in the area”
Karen Anderson, Area Manager at the Homes and Communities Agency said: “The planning approval is great news and will mean that the plans for these 57 homes can now be turned into reality by Cestria and Keepmoat.
“The Care and Support Specialised Housing Fund is designed to support ambitious high quality schemes such as the Elms and will ensure that the changing needs of older people are met in a well designed and caring environment.”
Cllr Eddie Tomlinson, Cabinet member for housing at Durham County Council, said: “We welcome this type of specialist housing which is always very much appreciated by our older generation.”
The location of The Elms will be close to the centre of Chester-le-Street and will encourage residents to become active members of their local community, with the semi-urban environment providing greater opportunities for involvement and engagement than those schemes situated in more rural locations.
The architect for the Elms is JDDK and work is expected to be completed in Spring 2015. Cestria will work in partnership with Durham County Council, Keepmoat, health and social care professionals and service users to develop the scheme.