Flats to be made one storey higher in £10 million refurbishment

Five blocks of flats in Oldbury are set to be made higher in a huge refurbishment scheme that will take over a year-and-a-half to complete – costing more than £10 million.

The modern refurbishments have been approved for the low rise flats at The Lakes, Badsey Road, and will be a ‘complete transformation’, it has been revealed.

The works will take 86 weeks, starting from November 2021 and finishing in June 2023. The contract has been awarded to Lovell Partnerships Limited, for the sum of £10,962,999.41.

They will deliver an upgrade to the five blocks and will also add 20 new units of social housing by creating an extra storey to each block.

Sandwell Council says this will provide ‘modern council owned accommodation’ to a high standard suitable for rent to council tenants.

Currently The Lakes features five, three storey blocks, each made up of 12 flats. These will be converted into four storey blocks of two bedroom flats.

The total number of flats in these five blocks will increase from 60 flats to 80 flats.

The works include: new front and rear entrance canopies; two new lifts to each block; construction of a new third floor to form four new flats per block; modifying and extending staircases; internal works, including fire precaution works to communal areas; remedial structural works; new pitched roof; replacing external windows.

These upgrades also include ‘rain screen cladding’ to improve energy efficiency and lower tenants’ fuel bills, and improvements to the environment to provide ‘much needed’ car parking and a more ‘aesthetically pleasing area’.

A sixth, three storey block will also be renovated, which will include alteration and refurbishment. It will comprise of six shops and six three-bedroom flats. No new units of housing will be added to this block

Sandwell Council says this will be a ‘complete transformation’ of the existing buildings, in addition to providing 20 new affordable homes.

In 2019, 374 neighbourhood letters were sent out detailing the improvements. Four objections were received.

They included one objector complaining the creation of a new flat above their property would “affect [their] right to quiet enjoyment”. The objector also said they “brought [sic] the flat knowing it was a top floor flat in a low-rise development”

According to residents, the planning application was the first time they were notified about the scheme.

The final objection read the front garden to a flat in Rydel House, also on Badsey Road, will be lost.

In response, Sandwell Council said areas outside the front of the flats are communal spaces, and are not for “solely enjoy one flat to enjoy”.

One letter of support was received stating that the properties are currently in a “very poor state”, and that work is needed to bring the block of flats back to an “acceptable standard”.

Councillor Yvonne Davies said: “Investment in continuing to improve the standard of people homes is really important, as is increasing the number of homes available to people.

“It’s really good news as the firms used by the council employ local staff and invest in skills building for apprenticeships.”

Councillor Zahoor Ahmed, cabinet member for housing, said: “Meeting local residents’ housing needs is one of our top priorities. This contract will provide a complete transformation of the existing buildings creating dwellings that will meet people’s needs, in addition to providing 20 new affordable homes.”

The recommendations were approved at Sandwell Council’s cabinet meeting on September 29.

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