Estates redevelopment: Scowerdons, Weakland and Newstead

This case study looks at how Sheffield City Council approached the tricky task of demolishing and rebuilding an out-of-date estate.

Summary

The Scowerdons, Weakland and Newstead (SWaN) regeneration scheme in the south-east of Sheffield is an ambitious programme of phased demolition and redevelopment, which aims to create homes for the future in sustainable neighbourhoods, transforming the long-term prospects for the area.

Making it happen

The estates originally comprised 809 non-traditionally constructed houses, which were built in the 1960s. These property types suffered from persistent repair and structural problems. In addition to disrepair, the lack of choice and type of housing available and the outdated layout and design of the estates contributed to concerns about their future sustainability.

A task group (including local residents) explored different options to address the sustainability issues. It was agreed that the refurbishment option would not achieve the transformational change required; it would not address the wider problems associated with layout and design, nor would it meet the needs of private owners. In addition, the substantial costs of providing a 30-year life for the estates could not be justified as ‘value for money'. Similarly, ‘do nothing' was not a viable solution in the context of the Decent Homes Standard. A longer-term, sustainable solution was needed at SWaN.

The task group concluded that phased demolition and redevelopment was the preferred option. Following further consultation, a survey of all residents showed that over 70 per cent were in favour of this option. The council's cabinet approved this approach in March 2003.

Significantly however, the SWaN estates did not suffer from many of the issues that one might consider ‘typical' of an area with sustainability problems. The existing properties were generally popular because of their generous size, and approximately 25 per cent were in private ownership. To address the attachment of many residents to the area, a unique Residents' Charter was agreed between the council and residents. The Charter means that a new home of the tenure of choice will be available for existing residents who want to stay on the estates. A copy of the Charter is attached to this case study.

In October 2003, Home Group Limited (HGL) was selected as the council's preferred partner registered social landlord. HGL's ‘development arm' - Home Group Developments Limited (HGDL) - are the lead developer for the scheme. The Development Agreement was exchanged in March 2008.

Making a difference

Delivery of the scheme is well underway and already ‘making a difference'. To date:

  • 63 per cent of all existing properties are vacant, and 51 per cent have been demolished
  • masterplans have been produced for each estate and approved as ‘material planning consideration' (which were reviewed during 2006 with input from CABE advisors and a complementary ‘SWaN Design Code' produced)
  • contractors and architects have been procured for each estate
  • two development phases are complete (Weakland and Newstead phase A) providing 101 new homes
  • detailed planning permission is in place for the first two phases on Scowerdons
  • extensive consultation has been carried out with residents and other stakeholders throughout the regeneration process

In the longer term, the scheme will deliver:

  • demolition of 809 unsustainable houses
  • redevelopment of around 1,000 high quality, genuine mixed-tenure new homes (with around 40 per cent for social rent, 10 per cent shared equity and the remainder for sale)
  • a wide range of house types for existing and future residents (the current estates include only 2 and 3-bed houses)
  • high quality housing and accessible estate design, which will meet the CABE ‘silver' standard as a minimum
  • more energy efficient homes which meet the Eco-Homes ‘Very Good' standard on two phases prior to the introduction of ‘Code for Sustainable Homes'
  • a safer, more accessible and attractive environment
  • the Residents' Charter; all existing residents affected by demolition may choose to stay on the estates

Next steps

The scheme is expected to complete around 2014-15. Key next steps include:

  • start on site on the Scowerdons estate (which will provide 106 new homes) in September 2009
  • planning permission for the second phases of Weakland, and Newstead start on site by March 2010 (to provide a further 122 new homes)
  • declaration of remaining rehousing phases between 2010-12
  • fulfilment of the Residents' Charter (around 2011-12)

Key learning

The Residents' Charter is a unique commitment and an example of best practice. It has fundamentally shaped the nature of the scheme, and creates both operational and financial challenges.

Operationally, residents living in earlier phases who have already been affected by demolition (but intend to return to a new home) are being ‘temporarily' rehoused in a later phase on one of the estates, while they wait for their new home to be built. This phased approach has been crucial in making the project manageable, and to minimise disruption to residents as much as possible throughout the process; it will also allow for ‘one move solutions' for residents in later phases (i.e. as new homes are built, residents in later phases can move straight into a new property, without the need to take a temporary move).

Financially, the Charter means that there is to be significant affordable housing provision. A complex financial appraisal was developed and approved by cabinet in January 2006. The delivery model is based on the concept of a ‘scheme account', a financial tool which reflects the credits and debits to the scheme. The council's financial contribution is in the value of the land and the upfront costs of site acquisition and demolition. The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) is a key partner, contributing funding to the scheme to facilitate delivery.

Further information

Resident's Charter

For any further information, please contact Stephanie Scott of the Regeneration Team

Tel: 0114 292 2307

Email:

mailto:stephanie.scott@sheffield.gov.uk

1 May 2012

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