A programme is underway in Neath Port Talbot to improve the quality of living for local residents.
Better Homes for People in Wales is a scheme implemented by the Welsh Assembly Government to bring homes – including all councils and housing associations – up to the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS).
The aim of the project is to meet all Welsh Housing Quality Standards by 2017. An additional £694m investment programme has also been put in place to continue maintenance and repair work for the next 30 years.
NPT Homes will invest approximately £220m in the planned programme of improvements between 2011 and 2017. NPT Homes is a not-for-profit organisation that was set up to manage council housing in Neath Port Talbot and it is owned by its members, which include tenants of NPT Homes. The organisation actively encourages tenant involvement as it enables NPT Homes to improve the quality of services that it can provide.
The Power Group is responsible for the planning programme, including the prioritisation of work. Following the submission of the opinions of the tenants, improvement works began in autumn 2011.
During the first six months of the programme, tenants in Melin, Sandfields West and Pontardawe will receive new bathrooms and kitchens. New heating systems will also be fitted, along with rewiring work where necessary.
Over the course of the six-year scheme, works will include the installation of 9,000 new and upgraded kitchens, 7,000 new and upgraded bathrooms and 6,000 new central heating boilers. In addition, 4,000 homes will benefit from electrical works.
Warmplan Ltd is the heating contractor, whilst Mears will fit kitchens, bathrooms and heating systems and Jistcourt will fit kitchens in the Pontardawe area.
Every home involved in the project will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Residents are not expected to move out of their homes during the course of the project unless extensive structural work dictates otherwise. If this situation does arise NPT Homes will discuss the situation with the tenant and examine options, including temporary accommodation.
The scheme is expected to encourage resident participation and it is hoped that improvements will also instil an increased sense of pride amongst the community.
Making a house a home
The requirements of WHQS state that all Welsh households should be of a good quality, should be safe, secure and in a good state of repair. Moreover, homes should be adequately heated, equipped with modern kitchens and bathrooms and be fuel efficient. All homes should also be located in a desirable environment and be looked after by landlords.
Homes should also match the requirements of their tenants. This includes consideration for the size of the household and any adaptations to homes for the interests of independent living.
The benefits of WHQS include a wider range of services for tenants and improvements to local neighbourhoods. This includes local level investment to generate much needed employment and training for residents.
NPT Homes has an extensive portfolio of 9194 properties across the County Borough, including 465 properties in sheltered schemes. The organisation prides itself on remaining tenant-focused and committed to providing excellent levels of service to the surrounding community. NPT Homes works towards creating new employment opportunities and encourages apprenticeships throughout its projects.
NPT Homes maintains an active working relationship with the Council and tenants who help to shape all of its developments. The company also has its own Homes by Choice Scheme, which allows tenants to let homes across County Borough service areas. This is a service based on choice and provides the opportunity to for residents to choose their own homes.