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Barratt sets the standard for new homes in Wales

3rd July 2009 Print
Barratt sets the standard for new homes in Wales Barratt South Wales has launched ground-breaking designs set to revolutionise affordable housing in Wales. The housebuilder today (2nd July) unveiled two houses showcasing a higher specification for the new homes at its Coed Castell development in Bridgend.

Guests attending the launch included Janice Gregory, National Assembly Member, Chair of Communities and Culture Committee and Councillor Mel Nott, Leader of Bridgend County Borough Council.

This is the first time a major housebuilder has discarded the traditional ‘pattern book’ for affordable housing and created new designs more suited to modern aspirations and practical living requirements. This has been undertaken in close partnership with the Welsh Assembly Government and Hendre Group – working with its regional housing provider Hafod Housing Association.

In addition, the new homes being built by Hafod Housing Association have received £4.5 million of Social Housing Grant funding from the Welsh Assembly Government.
These new affordable homes not only look good, they satisfy the Welsh Assembly Government’s Development Quality Requirements; including achieving Level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes. New Welsh Assembly Government Planning policy will result in all new housing developments of more than five homes submitted for planning approval from September 2009 achieving Code Level 3; Barratt South Wales is already leading the field.

James Groombridge, Managing Director of Barratt South Wales, says: “We’ve made radical changes to what was traditionally ‘allowed’ in affordable homes. Internal layouts have been pretty much set in stone for the past 50 years or so and housebuilders tended not to deviate from the ‘master plan’, until now.”

For example, kitchens were traditionally at the back of the house. These days, the kitchen is much more than a functional room. For many, the way it looks and its location is just as important as other main rooms in the house. Many people like the kitchen to be at the front so that they can see the day to day activity outside and people arriving. New designs such as the Ash and the Sycamore housetypes provide this choice.

One of the most noticeable differences is in the shortening of the hall. In the past, the front door usually opened into a narrow hall that led straight through the house to the back door; this took up valuable space. In the Ash house, the sitting/dining room now runs across the full width of the rear of the house with a window and a pair of French doors providing plenty of light and direct access to the garden. This layout also provides for a downstairs WC as well as useful storage cupboards.

The fact that these new designs meet Code Level 3 for Sustainable Homes is important, not just for the environment but for the people living in them. While residents may have subsidised rental, they still have energy bills to pay. The solar panels fitted to the roof of every home lower costs for hot water and heating.

External elevations have also been designed to provide highly attractive homes that integrate well within new housing developments; essentially, they look like the private homes.

Mr Groombridge adds: “We have also improved the overall look of developments. For example, we felt the galvanised railings sometimes used to secure spaces within affordable homes areas were unnecessary. Working closely with the South Wales Constabulary Architectural Liaison Officer we have met the Secured by Design requirements whilst complimenting the aesthetic appeal of the new development at Coed Castell; no galvanised railings have been used.”

Cllr Mel Nott, Leader of Bridgend County Borough Council, says: “On behalf of the Council, I am delighted to be associated with such an innovative partnership between public, private and the independent sectors. This scheme pushes the boundary of design in affordable housing and I’m sure that those in housing need will have their lives enhanced by such high quality design and end product.”

Ian Williams, Chief Executive of Hendre Group, says: “We welcome the opportunity of working closely with Barratt and the Assembly on developing this site, which provides much needed good quality accommodation. We look forward to extending the partnership with Barratt in the future.”

Barratt is building 52 of the newly designed affordable homes at Coed Castell, with a two-bedroom Ash house and a three-bedroom Birch house currently available as viewing homes; work has also begun on a further 98 in Cwmbran and Newbridge and more are planned throughout Wales.

Mr Groombridge says: “The Welsh Assembly Government, through its ‘Wales One’ coalition agreement, has given an undertaking to provide 6,500 affordable homes by 2011. Working closely with County Council housing departments and Regional Social Landlords, Barratt has raised the bar for affordable housing in Wales and is committed to assisting with the delivery of these much-needed new homes.”

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Barratt sets the standard for new homes in Wales