Housing news

Welcome

Welcome to another edition of Housing News

Welcome to the latest edition of Housing News. In this edition you can find out all about how the Housing Green Paper will effect you. You can also discover how you can #findyoursnowdog and get the latest info on the Coachworks, Kent Wool Growers and former Mecca Bingo Site developments. 

Also, find out all about how you could be in with a chance to win a £50 voucher from the Entertainer by entering our competition.

Tenants talk

Noakes Meadow

A bespoke wheelchair-user friendly bungalow that has been constructed by Ashford Borough Council and contractors DCB.

The property, built for Mr and Mrs MacGregor to accommodate Mrs MacGregor’s disability, is in Noakes Meadow in South Ashford.

Their new home is one of a stunning pair of two, two-bedroomed bungalows.

Occupational Therapists who have seen the property during the construction phase have commented that it should be the blueprint for the type of bespoke wheelchair-friendly accommodation that ought to be built across the county.

Mr and Mrs MacGregor said they are delighted by how the Council has listened to, and addressed, their needs. The couple used to run a business until Carole’s disabilities made that impossible. Carole has cerebral palsy and type two respiratory failure. She was born with talipes, which required many operations in her childhood. She struggles with their existing rented property with its angled rooms and large garden.

The custom built property at Noakes Meadow has square rooms with a wide hallway in which turning circles will be possible for Carole in her powered wheelchair. The wet room can be accessed via two very wide doorways and the wooden flooring throughout will enable Carole to use her standing aid, something that is not possible on carpet. Sections of the internal walls could be removed to enable a hoist to be fitted in the property in due course, should Carole require one to still enjoy their home.

In the kitchen, the worktop heights can be adjusted to enable Carole to cook and wash up should she so wish and all of the cupboards are also fully accessible. The smaller paved garden is also wheelchair friendly and will enable Carole to plant in pots and enjoy the sunshine throughout the summer months.

Carole MacGregor said: “It’s just amazing, the council and DCB have bent over backwards to accommodate us. Finally someone has understood a disabled person’s every need. I have been included in the design process from the outset and am beyond pleased with the result. I am so grateful to everyone involved, not least my husband who kept pushing on my behalf to make the fittings and finish precisely what we need.”

Steve MacGregor said: “I’ve been really pleased with the excellent communication we’ve had throughout the build. The accessibility offered by this new house is in a completely different league to what we’re used to. It would be great if this project could be used as a blueprint for future builds”.

Cllr Gerald White, Ashford Borough Council’s portfolio holder for housing, said: “That we have played a part in delivering a bespoke home which will significantly enhance the way in which Mr and Mrs MacGregor will be able to live their lives on a daily basis, is something that everyone involved in the project should be very proud of. I wish Steve and Carole all the very best for their future, and putting down new roots in Noakes Meadow.”

Chris Webster, Managing Director of DCB, said: “We are delighted that Mr and Mrs MacGregor are so pleased with their new home. Working in partnership has made this possible and to know that it has all been worthwhile and will make a real difference to their lives, means it is a job well done. It has been a great project to be involved in.”

 

Happy 50th birthday to Luckley House

 

Luckley House sheltered housing scheme in Wye celebrated its 50th anniversary, with pupils from the neighbouring Lady Joanna Thornhill Primary School entertaining residents, their families and guests with songs and Maypole dancing.

Luckley House, which is run by Ashford Borough Council, has always had a close relationship with the school, said scheme manager Denise Libbeter.

“Our residents love having the children visit and they stole everyone’s hearts with their wonderful singing. The girls and boys also put on a very energetic display of dancing around the Maypole, despite the hot weather, and thoroughly deserved their lemonade and ice lollies we gave them at the end,” added Denise.

The entertainment provided by the school was warmly praised by the Mayor of Ashford, Cllr Mrs Jessamy Blanford, who chatted with residents over a celebration lunch and studied displays of photos and memorabilia charting the 50 years of the housing scheme.

The mayor also planted a rose bush to commemorate the anniversary before taking time to admire the beautiful gardens and flower beds, which are the pride and joy of the residents who spend many hours tending them.



More than 30 residents live at Luckley House, which has a thriving social club with regular breakfast mornings, dinner and dance evenings, bingo, live entertainment and themed evenings, fish and chip suppers, visits and outings. Facilities have been modernised and extended in recent years, with a bright and airy communal lounge extended in 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help to Save

 

Hardworking people on low incomes can benefit from a new Government savings account that offers a 50% bonus. Help to Save will reward savers with an extra 50p for every £1 saved, meaning over 4 years a maximum saving of £2,400 would result in an overall bonus of £1,200. 

Help to Save is easy to use, flexible and secure, will help those on low incomes build up a ‘rainy day’ fund, and encourage savings behaviours and habits. How much is saved and when is up to the account holder, and they don’t need to pay in every month to get a bonus.

Help to Save is available to working people on Tax Credits and Universal Credit.

Account holders can save between £1 and £50 every calendar month and accounts last for four years from the date the account is opened.  After two years, savers get a 50% tax-free bonus on savings. If saving continues there is another 50% tax-free bonus after four years.

On maximum savings of £2,400 over 4 years, the overall bonus would be £1,200.

To apply, savers can visit www.gov.uk/helptosavelocal or use the HMRC app.

 

Danemore

The council’s redevelopment at Danemore is almost complete. The old, tired sheltered housing scheme near to the top of the high street was demolished back in May 2015 because it was becoming run-down and was no longer fit for purpose. In its place paved the way for a brand new, dementia-friendly scheme containing 34 new homes, a buggy store and a communal lounge. The new building will be ready for its new residents in January 2019.

It also has a roof terrace which we think will be very popular with residents. You can see it taking shape in this picture we took when we had a sneak preview of the site in October.

The homes (a mixture of 1-bed and 2-bed) will be larger, more energy efficient and brighter than in the old Danemore. There are still some places available in the new scheme so we are looking for interested residents already in council accommodation, aged 60 or over, to contact us, particularly if you have a connection with Tenterden, are in a larger property and are looking to move to a home that is the right-size for you.

The council is also building four chalet bungalows on the site, which it is going to sell on the open market, to help finance part of the cost of the new scheme.

For further information on Danemore, please contact Donna Michael, Development Partnership Officer (email donna.michael@ashford.gov.uk or phone 01233 330496)

 

Help with Downsizing

If your house or flat is now too large for you, have you thought about moving? With winter fast approaching, a smaller property means smaller heating bills!  If you are over the age of 50 years, Ashford Borough Council would help you to move through our Assisted Move scheme, taking the stress out of moving. 

Donna Michael, Development Partnership Officer at Ashford Borough Council, says the Assisted Move scheme arranges your removals, including a packing and unpacking service if you would like that. It provides carpets in your new property, arranges the disconnection and reconnection of your cooker, and pays you £500 for each bedroom you are downsizing by. 

 If you have rent or council tax arrears, these will be taken from your payment, taking away the worry of being in debt. You will be able to bid for properties through our Choice Based Lettings Scheme, so you choose where you want to move to. Your larger property can then be used to house a new family, giving them the space to live comfortably.

We are also happy to downsize tenants under the age of 50 years, but the Assisted Move would not apply. If you are interested in moving, visit the housing section at www.ashford.gov.uk, or call 01233 331111 for details on how to apply.

Focus on the Housing Green Paper

Ashford housing tenant Nikki Gooch represented the borough when she attended an event in Hastings on 18 October organised to meet Government Housing minister Kit Malthouse.

The minister is currently touring the UK to discuss the launch of the recent Housing Green Paper with tenants. Malthouse wants to get feedback and ideas from people on how best to deliver proposals contained in the Green Paper.

Housing association Optivo is facilitating the minister’s visit to the Hastings Centre and has invited Ashford Borough Council to get involved in further discussions around the proposals contained in the Green Paper.  

 

The important stuff

TPAS

 
Did you know that Ashford Borough Council is now a proud member of Tpas?
Find out how you can join below.
 
 
Tpas is England’s leading tenant engagement experts. A not-for-profit organisation, it has represented members across England since 1988. Membership is made up of local tenants and landlord organisations, cover more than 2.2 million homes.

Tpas is dedicated to improving tenant engagement standards across the country. It brings tenants, landlords and contractors together through a wide range of services, independent and impartial advice, support, consultancy, and training.

Whether you’re a tenant or landlord, Tpas is here to provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to work together. Because together, we can have constructive conversations that enable you to arrive at informed and cost-effective solutions. Solutions for improving services. Saving money. And bringing real and long-lasting change to communities.

You can find out more information here.

Annual Report to Tenants

Every year the Housing Department publishes this document to show what we have been up to in the last year, here is the report for 2016-17

Anti-Social Behaviour

The housing team have recently managed to secure three injunctions and an eviction due to anti-social behaviour over an extended period of time. The success of these injunctions and eviction has been down to the hard work of the officers working alongside partner agencies such as Kent Police and the continued evidence supplied by residents.

The council is also using other tools available to them under the Crime and Policing Act 2014 such as Community Protection Notices, Fixed Penalty Notices and Public Spaces Protection Orders.

 

The policy bit

HRA Debt Cap

The housing revenue account (HRA) is an account into which all of the rent that is paid by our tenants goes. This is the money that then enables the council to carry out planned maintenance to those homes we own, and what funds new kitchen installations, roof and boiler checks and so on.

It also enables us to build new council homes. However, there is a level at which our account is capped (known as the HRA Debt Cap) – meaning that we cannot borrow more money (extend our mortgage if you like) against the homes that we own once we reach a certain limit of borrowing.

You may have heard that the Prime Minister has recently announced that the government intends to scrap the debt cap. We don’t know yet what that entails specifically, but we are hopeful that we will be able to build more new homes. We will give you specific details in due course.

 

Spotlight

Help wanted at Stanhope Community Hub!

 

The Stanhope Community Hub is looking for helpers who are prepared to give young people a helping hand. The aim is to engage with the local community to support and give young people greater opportunities.


The Hub is located in the heart of the Stanhope estate and works with local people and other partners to bring about community transformation. It engages children, young people and families in positive activities; to help with access to specific support if needed; break cycles of generational unemployment and reduce anti-social behaviour.



Hub activities include homework clubs, youth club and much more. Training will be given to the successful candidate.

Pop in to see the Hub team at Otterden Close, call 07949 332911 or email holly.uprising@gmail.com

Your shout

Come and design our tenant engagement in the future!

We have decided to develop greater tenant engagement in how we deliver your housing services and we need your help.

We are setting up a short working group with a mixture of tenants and staff to transform how we listen to tenants and use their ideas.  These will lead to a new strategy and action plan that we can implement over the next year.

What will you get out of it?  You will be:

  • Truly listened to
  • Able to learn new information and skills
  • Work together to change things for the better
  • Expenses including travel and childcare reimbursement
  • Refreshments – tea, coffee and biscuits
  • Meeting people and fun!

This is what your time will involve:

  • Just a commitment to take part in a 2 hour workshop that will meet a maximum of five times at the Council

To express an interest please telephone Anthony Crossley, Neighbourhood Services Manager on 01233 330464 or email: anthony.crossley@ashford.gov.uk

 

 

 

Health and housing

Newtown Playpark

Have you seen the brand new Newtown playpark?

There's a toddler play park as well as a playpark for older children 

 

Reporting a Repair

 

We know that telephoning your repair through to us may not always be convenient for you, so for any non-emergency repairs why not use the online reporting service? Using the link below, and the easy to follow step-by-step picture guides, you can report a repair when it suits you. This has no effect on our response times and the service is available 24 hours a day throughout the year.

All we ask is that you give us an give us accurate report of the problem so we can assess how to prioritise it. Remember that for all issues relating to heating and hot water you can report your repair directly to BSW Heating, either through the online reporting service or on 0800 206 1371 (unless you are in an all-electric property and were specifically written to on 3 October 2018 giving alternative instructions).

http://houserepairs.ashford.gov.uk/

 

Meet the team

It's Awards Season

Ashford housing team’s trophy cabinet is full to bursting after scooping armfuls of awards and special commendations in recent months. And there is the promise of more to come this autumn. The hard-working and dedicated professionals within the housing department have been honoured at a number of regional and national award schemes.

Kent Housing Group annual awards

The council has been singled out for a special achievement award in recognition of its unrivalled commitment to welcoming and resettling Syrian refugees.

The Ashford team responsible for the resettlement of refugees was honoured at the Kent Housing Group and Joint Policy and Planning Board Excellence Awards, which celebrate outstanding individuals, teams or projects who have gone that ‘extra mile’ to ensure excellent service for communities across Kent.

Three years ago, Ashford pledged to receive up to 250 refugees over the five years of the Government’s national Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Programme. It was one of the first to respond and worked closely with the UNHCR and the Home Office, who have previously commended our excellent handling of the intake.

Today, 21 Syrian families, totalling 98 refugees, call Ashford home and have been grateful for the overwhelmingly positive response from the communities in which they have settled.

At the same awards, two Ashford schemes competed for top honours in the Partnership Working category. Farrow Court Homebridge & Cherry Tree Court scooped the award, with Ashford’s other entry, the Cheyne Social Property Impact Fund, highly commended.

Julie Stalker – a manager at Farrow Court – won the KHG Excellent Health or Social Care Professional award, while Esme Ervine was highly commended in the Excellent Young Achiever (under 25) category.

Housing Heroes Awards
The council was highly commended in the Housing Heroes Awards after it was one of six finalists in the hotly-contested Development or Maintenance Team of the Year category for organisations under 15,000 homes. The talented five-strong project delivery team from Ashford has been supported by officers from across the housing, finance and property departments in an exemplary display of teamwork and collaboration on a number of high-profile projects.

Inside Housing Awards

Ashford is one of nine entrants to be shortlisted for Best Older People’s Housing Development (71+ homes) in the Inside Housing Development Awards and will be keeping fingers crossed when the winners are announced on 29 November.

Ashford’s Farrow Court has caught the eye of the judges. Farrow Court is a council built, council owned and council run care-ready sheltered housing scheme. It is fully-dementia friendly and is the authority’s flagship scheme. It was built over two phases, with the second phase being completed and occupied in November 2017.

The 104 home centre has been delivered in recognition of the need to make special provision for the needs of an ageing population – by 2026 it’s anticipated that around 40% of the residents of our borough will be aged over 50.

The scheme includes 12 flats exclusively for adults with learning disabilities known as Cherry Tree Court, a guest room and seven recuperative care units known as Homebridge, which helps people to transition from hospital to home.

Helping to secure the nomination are the fantastic range of facilities at Farrow Court – including an on-site hair and beauty salon which is also open to the local community – and the many innovations that make Farrow Court more than just a sheltered housing scheme – to the residents it is home.

Kent Design Awards

Noakes Meadow has been shortlisted in the Kent Design Awards. The two bungalows at Noakes Meadow are the first bespoke affordable homes to have been designed and built in the borough that are known to meet the optional “wheelchair user accessible dwelling” standard. Located on the site of a former derelict garages, the council’s projects team liaised with the residents every step of the way to ensure that the homes include a host of special features to meet their individual needs.

Farrow Court Phase 2 has also been shortlisted in the Kent Design Awards and the winners will be announced on 8 November.

Speaking about these award successes, Sharon Williams, Head of Housing at Ashford Borough Council, said: “They are a testimony to the professionalism and dedication of our staff and also reflect our vision to deliver quality housing and homes for all at a time when local government finances are under pressure as never before.

“We continuously seek new opportunities to enhance our portfolio of affordable and supported housing to meet residents’ needs across the borough. Recognition through these awards will enable us to continue to lead the way and allow us to be an example of how astute local authorities can deliver high-quality homes despite pressure on budgets.”

 

Raising money for Macmillan

Julie Stalker our scheme manager at Farrow Court recently shaved her head in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.

It was a great morning, with Julie receiving lots of support from tenants, family and friends.

We also held a BIG raffle, tombola and bric-a-brac sale.  

We are pleased to confirm that we raised a total of £1,800, with half of that being sponsorship money.

Your borough

The Coachworks

 

A multi-award winning architect responsible for some of the most innovative and ground-breaking projects in London has been engaged by Ashford Borough Council to help deliver an exciting urban design scheme in the heart of the town.

Carl Turner Architects will create a vision to breathe new life into a cluster of disused industrial buildings in Dover Place, close to the international train station. Their previous projects have included Pop Brixton and Peckham Levels which have both had positive impacts on their local economies through the creation of jobs and visitor spending.

The plan will transform the site into a mixed-use campus called The Coachworks, providing a co-working space aimed at start-up businesses, flexible indoor and outdoor event space and a food and drink destination showcasing local producers and suppliers.

Subject to planning approval being granted by Ashford Borough Council, The Coachworks could be open as early as next summer and will comprise three distinct spaces:

The former Ashford Youth Theatre building will be transformed into a feast of food and drinks outlets, with events space added.  

The three-storey corn store will be converted into a ‘business incubator’ with start-up work spaces and shared facilities and will be able to host up to 200 people.

Sandwiched between the two buildings is a large open air space that will be subdivided to create two zones, a loggia or covered structure providing a grand entrance to the site and acting as a series of sheltered outdoor rooms, plus an open-air space. This would be ideal for events such as theatre, cinema and live sports screenings in the summer months. 

The plan for The Coachworks is termed a ‘meanwhile’ development. This is the interim use of land or buildings for which the long-term plan is yet to be decided. It’s anticipated that the Dover Place scheme will have a five year lifespan.

For more information visit www.coach-works.co.uk

 

Kent Wool Growers

 

 

Former Mecca Bingo Site

The News Hub

 

You can visit our brand new News Hub here

What's on?

Ashford has gone Snowdog crazy!

Here's all you need to know about the art trail which has taken Ashford by storm this autumn!

Love, loss, life, death. We all have a story to tell about our experiences of life’s adventures and it is those experiences that bind us to others, creating relationships and communities along the way.

As the community of Ashford, we have so much to reflect upon, celebrate and look forward to! We are a diverse community in lots of ways, but what brings us together is our ability to live life, love our families and support others in their time of need.

We are exploring all of these themes around the town in a unique way, through the extraordinary Snowdog public art trail.

Following a careful selection process, 35 artists were commissioned to turn their designs into reality, with the finished sculptures descending on key locations around the town for everyone to enjoy – via our streets, parks and public spaces, each Snowdog will get its moment to shine and tell its own individual story.

While the trail is a unique and fun way to explore Ashford, it also serves another important purpose; once the 10-week display is complete at the end of November, each Snowdog will then be auctioned off to help raise funds for our very own Pilgrims Hospices here in Ashford and enable them to continue supporting recently bereaved children in our community.

The Snowdogs Discover Ashford 2018 project has been delivered in partnership with Wild in Art; creative producers of spectacular, mass-appeal public art events and Penguin Ventures, part of Penguin Random House and owners of The Snowman™ and The Snowdog brand.

The Snowdog is fun, loyal, compassionate and offers love, unconditionally. This is your invitation to find your Snowdog and support the community you love!

 

When: 12th September – 18th November

Where to find more:
https://ashfordsnowdogs.co.uk/

Instagram: @ashfordsnowdogs

Facebook: Ashford Snowdogs

Twitter: @ashfordsnowdogs

LinkedIn: Ashford Snowdogs

Follow the hashtag on social media: #FindYourSnowdog

 

 

Job Club

The fun stuff

Competition Time

What does Ashford in the Autumn mean to you? A glorious sunset, golden brown leaves carpeting the ground, a misty morning with the promise of a crisp Autumn day ahead?

 

Capture your idea of ‘Ashford in the Autumn’ in a photo and send it to us and the best one will win a £50 voucher for Made in Ashford.

 

Plus we will use the winning photo on the front cover of our new Tenant’s Handbook, which will be published very soon.

 

To enter just send your photo by email to toyah.Bicker@ashford.gov.uk  including your name, full address and contact telephone number. Entries to reach us by 27th November. Or you can tag us in your autumn pictures via Instagram.

 

Get in touch!

Useful Numbers

 

Customer Services: 01233 330688

Repairs: 01233 330366

Out of Hours AMC: 01233 642095

Heating and Boiler Issues: 0800 2061371

Get in Touch

Do you have a way with the written word? Or a burning issue you want to address?

Would you like to contribute to Housing News?

Submit an article, tell us about an event or just send us a comment no matter how big or small we want to hear from you all. Let us know what you think we should cover.

You can send submissions or get in touch with us at: media@ashford.gov.uk

We can’t wait to hear from you!

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