Somerset West and Taunton Council’s (SWT) latest social housing development has been completed despite early setbacks and the impact from COVID-19.
The new social rented housing scheme at Laxton Road, Taunton, promotes comfortable and healthy living through a mix of eight 2-person, 1-bedroom flats split across two 3-storey blocks.
The Council-owned site which was occupied by a number of disused garages, was identified as in need of regeneration prior to planning permission being granted in 2017.
The building work started in November 2019 and was projected to finish in the autumn of 2020, however, appointed contractor, Classic Builders, encountered a number of challenges over the course of the project.
On digging the foundations, an unexpected service pipe was discovered causing an early delay. Further significant delays were incurred with the onset of the Coronavirus restrictions in March 2020, forcing work to be halted and closure of the entire site for approximately six weeks.
Classic Builders worked hard to get the project back on track by implementing new safe working practices and working extended hours, including on Saturdays to complete in time for the New Year.
The completed units have been finished to a high standard; exceeding current building regulations and are well insulated for high energy efficiency. Each flat has received an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) band ‘B’ rating to ensure energy bills are reduced for tenants.
Six of the new flats have already been let and feedback from the new occupiers has been very positive. On moving in, one of the new tenants said: “I’m really happy with the property and the quality of work”. Another said: “I’m thrilled to be downsizing after many years on Homefinder”.
SWT’s Executive Member for Housing, Cllr Fran Smith, said: “The completion of this project marks the first social housing scheme in this area and we’re committed to providing further schemes in the next few years.
“I cannot commend our contractors enough for pulling out all the stops to get the building work finished, especially considering the many difficulties they faced over the last year or so.
“The new properties look fantastic and add real aesthetic value to the area, and they’ll certainly make a difference to the quality of life for the new occupiers.”
Social housing is cheaper than privately rented housing and provides long-term security for tenants.
Cllr Smith added: “In keeping with the apple-themed road names in the area, we’ve named the new housing units ‘Kingston Black Court’ after the Kingston Black apple, which is native to our cider-producing region of England.”