Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT) has approved funding to support all future phases of the North Taunton Woolaway Project.
Members approved the funding to ensure a smooth transition between phases and quicken the pace of the regeneration project, at a special Full Council meeting on Thursday, 3 December.
The initial phase of the project, ‘Phase A’, commenced this year with the demolition of 26 Woolaway homes which the Government has designated as defective; and the building of 47 new homes scheduled for completion by September 2022.
The next phases of the project, ‘Phases B to E’, will see the demolition of a further 136 defective homes and the building of 180 more homes along with a new community facility, estimated to complete in November 2027.
Of the 50 homes in Phase E, 27 are council-owned homes and will be made structurally sound and fully refurbished with better insulation, and 23 homes are privately owned. The council has developed a package of financial assistance which private owners can consider if they would like to participate in the refurbishment.
This flagship project, which has been submitted for national planning awards, will regenerate one of the most socially deprived areas in Somerset. A total of 227 new homes will be delivered, set at affordable rents.
In addition to new homes, it supports growth within the local economy and offers health, environmental and employment opportunities. SWT will work in partnership with Community Focused Contractor, ENGIE, facilitating a number of training workshops and recruitment opportunities to increase community engagement and leave a long term positive impact.
An Implementation Working Group comprised of residents has been working with the council to review progress, provide feedback and help shape how the project is delivered.
Existing council tenants in the project area have been offered the right to return to an equivalent size property within the new scheme.
The mix of new homes will offer 1 to 5 bedroom units, all built to Nationally Described Space Standards. The majority of new homes will be suited to tenants’ needs as they change over their lifetime and 9 homes will be adapted for wheelchair use.
All new homes will be energy efficient and built to low carbon standards to exceed current building regulations. In a significant step towards Zero Carbon housing, a new round of consultation is set to start, aimed at replacing proposals for gas heating with renewable on-site heat and power, which could generate between 70% to 90% cost savings for tenants.
Electric vehicle charging points are also being provided in private driveways and communal spaces. Plenty of trees and green spaces will also be incorporated to adopt Garden Town Design principles.
Executive Member for Housing, Cllr Fran Smith, said: “The approval of these recommendations will assist the next phases of the project. It will provide certainty and security to the North Taunton Woolaway Project tenants.
“Not only is this a significant step toward zero carbon using renewable heat and power, but it forms an essential part of our commitment in offering a choice of good quality housing for our residents. It significantly increases the number of affordable and social homes in Taunton and it will be inclusive; catering for single occupiers, families, vulnerable and elderly people.
“It also supports our aspiration to deliver new homes into the community over the next 30 years, as per our approved 2020 Housing Revenue Account Business Plan”.