Rugby council nominated for award for work on high-rise regeneration projects - The Rugby Observer

Rugby council nominated for award for work on high-rise regeneration projects

Rugby Editorial 5th Feb, 2020   0

THE REGENERATION projects for Biart Place and Rounds Gardens have earned Rugby Borough Council (RBC) a nomination for an award which celebrates excellence in the housing sector.

The council has been shortlisted for the Council of the Year Award at the UK Housing Awards.

Councillors gave the green light to the regeneration plans after structural surveys revealed tower blocks at the two sites were built to a poor standard in the 60s and may not ‘perform as expected’ in the event of a fire or explosion.

Working with the Building Research Establishment, the council estimated it would cost around £51million to replace the buildings.

Surveys suggested it would cost more in the long term to mend them because they would need to be repaired again in less than 30 years.

RBC communities and homes spokeswoman Coun Emma Crane said: “The decision to move all the tenants out of Biart Place and Rounds Gardens and find them new homes while starting work on plans to regenerate both sites presented the council with one of the biggest challenges it has ever faced.

“However, from the start, the safety and welfare of our tenants has guided our decision-making and I’m proud of the way the council has risen to the challenge.”

The council and Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service changed the fire safety procedure at both sites from a ‘stay put’ policy to evacuation.

Plans were drawn up for tenants who would need help to evacuate, while the council installed a new fire alarm system at Rounds Gardens.

After all Biart Place tenants had left, firefighters carried out a major training exercise at the high-rise blocks – a rare opportunity to train at such buildings – which has now informed the response plans of fire services across the country.

Meanwhile, the work the council carried out with the Building Research Establishment has formed a blueprint for other housing providers nationwide.

Coun Crane said: “The projects have taken the council into uncharted territory which, while presenting many challenges, have also provided opportunities to innovate and inform the work of fellow councils, housing providers and the emergency services.”

All tenants at Biart Place were rehoused within eight months of councillors rubber-stamping the site’s regeneration plans in April 2018.

The decision to regenerate Rounds Gardens was taken in February 2019, and the council has already helped 100 households find a new home. The site is on schedule to be empty by March 2022.

Households at both sites have been dealt with on a one-to-one basis, discussing housing needs and drawing up plans to find them suitable new homes. Tenants were also kept up-to-date with decisions on the future of the blocks.

Create Streets, an organisation focused on creating attractive and socially successful communities, was brought in to help understand community aspirations for the sites.

“While we were aware of the need to act quickly and decisively in determining the future of Biart Place and Rounds Gardens, we never lost sight of the fact the tenants had to be at the heart of the decision-making process,” said Coun Crane.

“As a council, we were presented with a significant challenge, but we have always remained acutely aware of the uncertainty and upheaval our tenants have faced, and the need for us to place the welfare of our tenants at the top of our agenda.”

She said the council was pleased to be nominated for the award – but the hard work on the regeneration projects had only just begun.

“However,” she added, “what we have achieved so far shows we’re ready for the challenges which lie ahead and can successfully finish what we’ve started.”

The 24th UK Housing Awards, organised by the Chartered Institute of Housing and Inside Housing magazine, take place at London’s Grosvenor Hotel on Thursday May 7.

Visit for more information about the regeneration of Biart Place and Rounds Gardens.


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