Over four floors, the facility will provide approximately 890 square metres of living accommodation comprising bedroom units, communal living spaces and disability access to suit a variety of potential service users. There are 21 standard, one-bedroom units designed for short-term residents, of which 18 rooms have interconnection functionality to create two or three-bedroom units for larger families as required.
Each unit includes showers and bathrooms, including disabled level access shower rooms in all of the two and three-bed unit configurations. Units on the ground floor include disabled level access wet rooms, and one ground floor unit also includes a disabled level access kitchen.
An additional shared kitchen provides a space for community use, along with communal shower space. Furthermore, each unit comes with its own individual electricity card meter.
Carl Yale, refurbishment director at Lovell Partnerships, comments: “Through close collaboration with the council, we have created specialist housing provision by refurbishing a previously underutilised council asset, bringing part of the council’s portfolio back into use creating much needed flexible housing solutions.”
Yale says with 160,000 homeless households in Britain, including families, couples and singles, the investment is more important than ever.
“This approach to creating hidden homes through the transformation of existing building stock allows us to provide housing much more quickly than designing and building new properties,” he says. “It also allows us to adapt the developments to meet the needs of local people, while bringing redundant spaces back into use for the local authority.”
The refurbishment project has formed part of an existing contract between Lovell Partnerships and Sandwell MBC, which sees the housebuilder’s refurbishment team working on internal improvement works for the local authority’s residential properties since 2005.
The team has also completed the conversion of the former Greenwood Avenue children’s centre, which was being used as offices, into emergency accommodation. Two one-bedroom and two two-bedroom flats include brand-new kitchens and shower rooms, double glazing, central heating and come fully furnished with beds, wardrobes, washing machines, sofa beds, tables and chairs.
Councillor Zahoor Ahmed, Sandwell’s cabinet member for housing, adds: “We’re working hard to help people in the borough who are at risk of or already homeless. The support we provide is focussed on preventing homelessness and through this work we reduced the number of people needing emergency accommodation by 70 per cent over the last financial year.”
“While we do our best to support people to stay in their homes or find them new permanent housing, every now and again, families need immediate emergency accommodation, while we work to rehouse them.”
He continues: “Before we had Applewood Grove, and Greenwood Avenue, we had to rely on bed and breakfast in some cases. Bed and breakfast accommodation isn’t flexible to the changing needs of families and rarely provides cooking facilities and space needed for larger households.”
“We now have the right capacity to meet almost all needs and staff are on-site each day to work with families to help them find a new home and move on from emergency accommodation as quickly as possible.”