I’ve just noticed this press release from Walsall Housing Group, issued earlier this week. It seems the worst kept secret in Brownhills is now out, and the two remaining sixties monstrosities – Humphries House and Severn House will be renovated rather than removed. The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed for some time now the ongoing works at the blocks, and now scaffold has been erected around Severn House.
I have mixed feelings about this – the blocks clearly need a huge amount of work to make them livable again, but I’m not sure that preserving them is the best idea. After all, can spending so much on these sites be economically viable when the fabric of these homes must surely be nearly life-expired? I hope the double glazing units are better than the ones recently installed at WHG’s new £6.5 million offices in Walsall, which have all proven to be faulty and need replacement. I also question the wood-pellet ‘biomass’ heating system; one of these blocks’ main features when built was a trendy new heating system – underfloor heating – that turned out to be impossibly costly to use and broke down with alarming regularity. I hope they have the wrinkles ironed out of this one.
It’s a fact that no matter how much you polish it, a bad job is still a bad job. I hope this works out for the sake of he long-suffering residents, but frankly, I’m not optimistic.
More than £3million is being spent on landmark Humphries House and neighbouring Severn House, Brownhills, both of which are owned and managed by leading landlord whg.
The pioneering Midlands’ housing provider has strengthened its partnership with Aldridge-based Wates Construction and British Gas to give the 1960s blocks a massive overhaul.
whg is introducing the very latest in heating technology to the blocks by fitting highly energy-efficient biomass boilers that burn wood pellets, a clean and natural fuel.
Residents will be able to individually change the temperature within their own flat using a wall-mounted unit that can be controlled like a central heating boiler. The system will also provide instant hot water.
Group Chief Executive Gary Fulford said: “Work to Humphries and Severn Houses is not only significant in terms of investment but exciting as we are introducing cutting-edge green technology. whg is at the fore of the retrofit revolution and we will continue to innovate for the benefit of our customers and the environment.
“We aim to create homes where our customers are happy and proud to live and this is a good example of turning theory into practice,” added Gary.
Scaffolding is being put up around the blocks as the dated pebble dash exterior will be replaced with rendered insulation in a colour chosen by customers. As part of the extensive project, new roofs will be fitted, double glazed windows installed and the communal areas redecorated. Work will be completed next spring and follows a recent bathroom and kitchen upgrade to the flats.
The combination of better insulation and the new heating system will lower the carbon footprint of Humphries and Severn Houses, off High Street, and ensure energy bills for residents are less than with standard heating systems. In addition the overall effect of the makeover will improve Brownhills’ skyline.
whg is a pioneer of the retrofit, designed to improve the energy efficiency of a property, and has an impressive range of projects either completed, ongoing or on the horizon.
Working with energy giant British Gas, whg delivered the country’s first Community Energy Savings Programme. The work to modernise homes in Blakenall, Walsall, in 2009/10 with a range of energy efficient measures attracted a visit from Joan Ruddock MP, then Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and helped whg secure the gas industry’s energy champion award this year.