Transformed tower block officially opened
Published by Penny Allison for Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing in Housing
Leader of Kirklees Council, Mehboob Khan, with tenants, ward councillors and project team members. Photo courtesy Huddersfield Examiner
The transformation of a Huddersfield landmark was celebrated today, with the official opening of the newly refurbished Harold Wilson Court on Leeds Road in the town centre.
To mark the milestone, tenants, senior councillors and representatives from each of the organisations involved took part in a brief ceremony and enjoyed a tour of the new-look flats.
The year-long renovation of the former Richmond Flats was carried out by Clugston Construction Ltd and designed by Watson Batty architects, working with Kirklees Council and Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing (KNH). It has involved the complete remodelling of the individual flats as well as major changes to the structure of the 11-storey tower block.
The new homes are currently being let to people on the Kirklees housing register and offer the latest in affordable, energy efficient, secure and comfortable living.
The project has been funded from the Council’s Housing Revenue Account, which is made up of tenants’ rent payments. Funding for some of the energy efficiency measures came from the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007-13 as part of the BIG Energy Upgrade programme - a new approach to energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
As part of the renovations, bedsits have been converted into one bedroom flats and all have been decorated throughout. Kitchens and bathrooms have been replaced to bring them up to ‘decent homes’ standard; floor coverings and sound insulation will reduce the amount of noise between the flats.
As well as making the flats welcoming, safe and comfortable, helping reduce living costs by improving the flats’ energy efficiency was also a fundamental part of the renovation.
To help make sure there is a stable and successful community, new tenants have all attended a pre-tenancy workshop so they fully understand the responsibilities of living in a flat, and get to know their neighbours and what services are available locally. A local lettings plan that gives priority to people in work or training is also helping make sure there’s a balanced mix of residents. And as part of the construction process, Clugstons provided an opportunity for a local tenant to be involved in the refurbishment of the flats, which has now led to other work.
Harold Wilson Court is also the Council’s first block of flats to have WiFi installed, helping to give residents access to more work and education opportunities. This has been made possible thanks to a partnership between KNH and providers Montal Solutions and Community UK.
Speaking about the project, Leader of Kirklees Council, Cllr Mehboob Khan said: “The aim of the renovation project was to provide a welcoming, safe environment, which is energy efficient and where people will feel proud to live.
“There’s no doubt that we’ve achieved that – this has been a fantastic project that’s going to make a real difference to the new residents.”
And the tenants themselves are thrilled with their new homes, commenting on the great new facilities and the welcoming atmosphere, with one new resident saying, “It’s beautiful, it really is - it absolutely is!”
Cabinet member for Place and local ward councillor, Peter McBride, said: “Along with my ward colleagues, I’ve been involved in this project since the very beginning. It’s been a long time in the planning and the end results are well worth it.
“The physical improvements and the way the flats are being let make this a very desirable place to live, and I hope all the current and future residents will be very happy in their new homes.”