Major refurbishment of Alnwick council houses completed

Coun Allan Hepple, cabinet member responsible for housing, Alnwick councillor Gordon Castle and tenant Tina Gregory.
Coun Allan Hepple, cabinet member responsible for housing, Alnwick councillor Gordon Castle and tenant Tina Gregory.
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A major £700,000 scheme to refurbish some of Alnwick’s oldest council houses has been completed by the county council.

As previously reported by the Gazette, the interiors of 20 properties in King Street have had new floors, walls, doors, insulation, heating and energy-efficient boilers installed.

At the same time, they have been rewired and given new kitchens, bathrooms, blinds and carpets, with the tenants choosing their preferred colours, styles and materials.

Historically, King Street has experienced issues with damp and water ingress and while there is anecdotal evidence of underground streams, it is not known exactly why it’s been a problem for the houses in this area.

During the refurbishment, the properties were stripped down to the brickwork to install a membrane to counter this damp problem.

Northumberland County Council’s cabinet member for housing, Coun Allan Hepple, said: “The council has made a significant investment to ensure these properties have been fully renovated and refurbished and that the damp problems have been rectified once and for all.

“The houses are more than 100 years old yet with the installation of all the new fixtures and fittings they look fantastic and feel fresh, comfortable and modern.”

Due to the extent of the work, the tenants were unable to stay in their properties while the restoration work was carried out so the refurbishment was done in stages with residents ‘decanted’ in and out of the street’s seven empty properties.

Alnwick housing officer, Andrew Howstan, from the Homes for Northumberland team, has been supporting and assisting the tenants throughout the process.

He said: “The tenants have been fantastic. It’s been a big upheaval for them as they have had to move out of their homes while the work was carried out, but they have given their full cooperation to the scheme.”

Tina Gregory, from 4 King Street, added: “I moved back into my property last month and it’s like living in a new house. I was able to pick from a range of styles for the bathroom the kitchen and the tiles so the new furnishings are to my own tastes. I’m delighted with the end results.”

Alnwick ward councillor, Gordon Castle, said: “I’ve been involved with this scheme since the beginning as a former board member for Homes for Northumberland that started this project off. The damp problems have bedevilled these houses for years and I hope this work will be a permanent solution. I think the project has been very well managed and has involved the minimum disruption to tenants. It’s a good example of how council housing can and should be run and great for Alnwick.”

Fellow Alnwick member, Heather Cairns, said: “I hope the extensive remedial work is successful and that the new homes are dry, comfortable and a joy to live in.”