Councillors set to approve multi-million pound investment in housing

Council tenants could soon benefit from home improvements worth £65 million if councillors approve a new set of standards for housing.

Members of the council’s executive board are being asked to approve the Leeds Homes Refurbishment Standard when they meet next week (Wednesday 19 November).

Council homes across the city have already seen significant investment through the existing national Decent Homes Standard. The programme has replaced thousands of kitchens and bathrooms as well as other structural improvements, bringing properties up to a ‘reasonable’ standard for tenants.

However, the council wants to go further with its own local set of standards that make existing council homes fit for modern lifestyles, focusing on making homes healthy and energy efficient. The standards will also include improvements to green spaces, parking, waste management and security so entire estates can benefit.

If approved, the proposals would result in £65 million being invested in council homes in 2015/16 alone, with a long term plan to spend hundreds of millions over a 30 year period.

The standards have been designed to keep up to speed with the latest developments in sustainability, new technology and to meet tenant’s aspirations for their own homes. The standards also look more broadly to bring about improved conditions across whole estates rather than just individual properties.

Councillor Peter Gruen, executive member for neighbourhoods, planning and personnel said:

“The Decent Homes Standard has allowed us to make massive improvements to people’s homes. It set out to bring properties to a ‘reasonable’ standard but with the new proposed refurbishment standard we can ensure that homes are warmer, cheaper to heat and healthier places to live.

“The proposed standard also lets us look at estates as a whole and help drive change that will make people proud of where they live.

“As well as knowing exactly what to expect, by building in flexibility to the standards, tenants can be assured that as times marches on we can continue to maintain their homes to the highest standard.”

The Leeds Homes Refurbishment Standard proposes to:

- keep already hazard-free council homes safe from defects

- keep the structure of homes in good repair, replacing walls, chimneys, heating, plumbing and electrics if needed

- upgrade any remaining single glazing with energy efficient double glazing

- deter burglary by using Safe by Design doors

- upgrade any remaining homes that are only heated partially by gas central heating to full central heating, fit A rated gas boilers at point of replacement, offer gas central heating to tenants in all-electric properties if gas is available and if not, connecting to district heating will be considered

- insulate all cavity walls and lofts in houses, re-clad and insulate multi-storey flat roofs and insulate cavity walls, fit external wall insulation to other flats and fit internal insulation to back to back properties to address fuel poverty

- install sprinkler systems in remaining multi-storey flats

- fit solar panels to properties with sufficient roof space and in the right location

- maintain compliance with the disability discrimination act for access and communal areas

- convert all properties with shared bathing facilities, ie sheltered housing, to self-contained accommodation and if not possible within existing buildings, appraise suitable options

- complete the rollout of CCTV to multi-storey blocks and replace lifts that stop at alternate floors

- incorporate improvements to green spaces, off-street parking, how waste is collected and monitored CCTV

For media enquiries please contact:

Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577

email: amanda.l.burns@leeds.gov.uk