London & South East

Hackney Homes maintain standards of living

Safety and security is at the top of the list as Hackney Homes continues to invest in the welfare of its residents on a number of key projects and planned programmes to improve living conditions across its estates.

Created by the London Borough of Hackney and launched in 2006, Hackney Homes is a non-profit scheme that was originally set up to manage council homes in the Hackney area.  It was implemented to provide repairs and maintenance for the properties within its portfolio; offering important and much needed services to residents and the local community.  It continues to achieve this through the introduction of modern housing that takes into account the views of its tenants, whilst introducing high standards within each housing estate.

Hackney Homes already has set maintenance services already in place; these are legal requirements that Hackney Council must abide to. However, the ongoing programme will also include external repairs and upgrades that are not usually seen as a top priority.

This includes high-tech security systems such as an around-the-clock CCTV network, along with improvements to entry ways, footpaths and communal TV systems.  Faulty lifts are now repaired within two hours between 8am and 6pm during Mondays and Fridays and properties will be repainted every eight years to ensure that they remain as fresh as the day they were first painted.

In addition, Hackney Homes has also looked into improving this important area by replacing outdated heating systems with more energy efficient alternatives.  This not only offers better value for money for residents, but also offers a brighter outlook during the cold dark nights.

Hackney Council’s approach isn’t just about introducing a standard process of repairs and improvements either, as residents are given as much say as possible when it comes to the finer details.  This even includes asking for their opinions on the style and colour of the work being implemented.  Residents are also updated of any delays or disruptions to planned work, which ensures that all of the operations run as smoothly as possible.

In summer 2010, Lakehouse was announced as a partner for Hackney Homes, along with Mansell, Balfour Beatty’s UK construction services business and Essex-based contractor Mulalley. Each became important contractors on what was a four-year framework, costing £350 million. The framework was split into three individual sections and covered areas such as Decent Homes, Planned Maintenance and Responsive Repairs.

Speaking about becoming a partner, Lakehouse Chief Executive Steve Rawlings said: “The Hackney Homes framework was a massive win for Lakehouse, and further demonstrated our growth and success in social housing, where we are recognised as one of the leading service providers in the south east.

“To be selected as one of only three contractors for the high profile partnership made all our hard work worthwhile.”

Lakehouse’s work focused on two of the framework’s three areas, which included Decent Homes and Planned Maintenance. It had been referred to by Lakehouse Communities and Regeneration Director Gary Bruce as “a fantastic achievement.”

Hackney Council has invested £184 million in the programme since its inception back in 2006, which has seen the properties within the Hackney Homes estates benefit from brand new kitchens and bathrooms.

Despite a reduction in government funding for Decent Homes, the development has still received a guaranteed £33 million in funding for 2011/12.  A further £27 million in funding has been provisionally set for 2013/14 and 2014/15 and Hackney Council also invested a further £4 million throughout 2011 and into 2012.

The cut in funding may have resulted in Hackney Council having to prioritise where it spends its money, but it has not stopped the process from moving forward.  It has simply meant a greater focus on repairs and improvements to external work, with roofing and brickwork leading the way.

Decent Homes partner Mansell is no stranger to working on large contracts such as Hackney Homes, with its owner Balfour Beatty having previously worked on affordable homes projects for Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council and Riverside Housing Association, amongst others.  This has included the internal and external refurbishment of existing properties, as well as new build projects.

Chief Executive of Balfour Beatty, Ian Tyler said: “We were delighted to have been appointed to this framework and look forward to continuing our long-standing relationship with Hackney Homes and the local community to deliver improved housing for residents.”

As part of its involvement in the four-year framework, Mansell became involved in maintaining internal and external work across Hackney.  This included working with the DSSL Group on a wireless CCTV system which can be accessed at anytime by both DSSL and Hackney Homes’ staff.  Allowing any faults to be rectified within a 24 hour period, this means that residents can rest assured that a secure and reliable system is in place to benefit them.  As specialists in security DSSL has linked individual sites to one another across the Hackney Homes portfolio in order to offer an increased sense of safety.

DSSL Group company MD and project manager, Bob Lack, said: “We linked one site to begin with to approve of the concept and then we built it up five sites at a time.

“There are now 60 sites across the borough of Hackney linked on this wireless network.”

Hackney Homes has made a sizeable investment over the last 10 years in order to improve the safety and security of its estates and the CCTV cameras installed by DSSL now monitor all aspects of the estates on a daily basis.

Partner Mulalley was recognised for their hard work at the recent Association of Consultant Architects awards ceremony. Due to a number of money saving process introduced during its work on the framework, Mulalley was awarded the PPC/TPC award.

President of the ACA, Terry Brown said: “Their study was a first-class example of constructor-led innovation for the benefit of the whole Hackney Alliance, not just the client or an individual constructor.”

In order to receive the award Mulalley demonstrated the value that engineering under PPC2000 could bring to the project, which was not only innovative, but also introduced ways of saving on costs.  In light of the cuts in funding on the scheme, this was seen as big boost that further benefitted Hackney Homes.

Head of Asset Management for Hackney Homes, Jonathan Oxlade, said: “This award is good recognition of our work with Mulalley and partners which has led to innovative and better ways of working.”

Mulalley Director Bruce Benson added: “It is just recognition for the added value that has been brought to this programme by the Hackney Alliance.”

With funding in place for the Hackney Homes scheme to continue its four-year framework tenants will certainly appreciate the benefits of being a Hackney resident for a good while longer.

Greentherm Mechanical Services

Formed in 2006, Greentherm Mechanical Services Ltd are a well established company employing around 50 people and working on a number of authorities across a full range of mechanical services; including commercial, domestic, industrial and electrical.

Traditionally local authority based the company has worked on projects for several London boroughs including Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham, Newham, Hackney, Bexley and Southend on Sea.

Before procuring the original framework on the Hackney Homes project, Managing Director John Allsopp worked with partner Tony Ashford in putting together the original bid and presentation that successfully got the company the contract.

Tony has worked at senior management positions establishing several ALMOs within the London area as well as working with many housing associations. Tony is an established national speaker on the conference circuit covering specialist subjects such as The Partnering Ethos, Value for Money initiatives and Procurement Best Practice as well as promoting the role of residents within social housing projects. He is also actively involved in the development and application of LED lighting technology.

John, Tony and the team started work this year on Hackney Homes and have so far completed 27 properties with 185 further properties in the pipeline at the beginning of January 2012.

DSSL Group

Since 1996 the Essex-based DSSL Group has been specialists in the field of safety and security.

Working on a new a £1 million pound wireless CCTV infrastructure for Hackney Homes, DSSL Group’s work ethic is to offer a competitive service that includes development, design, integration and installation of CCTV, access control and perimeter protection systems.

DSSL Group company MD and project manager Bob Lack Bob said: “We’re recognised as being a group that is very flexible and can respond to any security situation; whether it involves access control, building protection or CCTV.

“We’ve got a good background in working for local authorities, police services, central government and the industry of petrochemical, pharmaceutical and power stations within the area of Essex.”

Recognised by its clients as being flexible enough to respond to any project involving CCTV, access control or perimeter protection systems, DSSL prides itself in its reputation for excellence and ingenuity.  It strives to be at the forefront of delivering wireless technology and IP systems to its broad base of clients and maintains the Hackney Homes security system on behalf of Mansells.

Designed and installed especially for Hackney Homes, DSSL system is one of the UK’s largest Housing CCTV networks, consisting of 1500 cameras and 118 digital video recorders.


 Harris Steel

Set up in 2004, Harris Steel is a supplier and installer of steel work products, working for many local authorities and building contractors.  The company has carried out Reactive and Planned works for Mansell Construction, and worked on Decent Homes for Mulalley and Lakehouse.

On Decent Homes, Harris Steel is providing new metal balconies, steel doors, hatches, steel ladders and its Reactive and Planned work includes steel doors, hatches, barrier gates, high security locking systems, plating, grills and all types of steel fencing.

Harris Steel director Janet Harris said: “Our company objective is to provide safety, security, quality and value to meet our customers’ requirements.”

She added: “We use top quality welders, our installations are to a high specification, and we do a considerable amount of bespoke work offering free on-site survey services.”

 RSS Playmakers

RSS Playmakers have been in business for over 20 years providing specialist playground inspection and maintenance services.  The company is currently responsible for over 1,500 play areas throughout England and Wales.

Since 2002 the company has been dealing with Hackney Council, undertaking all of its local housing playgrounds planned inspections and maintenance work.  More recently this has been through a contract merge with construction services company Mansell and sees RSS Playmakers continue to provide specialist playground maintenance services in this area.

Director of RSS Playmakers Chris Lodge said: “At RSS Playmakers we are very serious about playground safety and are dedicated to making playgrounds as safe as possible.”

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