Investing in our communities: Charnwood House
To make sure our residents are living in safe and modern homes, we’ve been working across lots of our schemes to make improvements to communal areas. Over the last year, we’ve been making some upgrades at Charnwood House in Lichfield.
Charnwood House is a mid-rise block of 11 flats, which has often had good interest from prospective tenants because of the locality and good transport links. However, recently, the appearance of the flats and communal areas, as well as problems in the community, meant that attracting new residents was tough and our current residents were disheartened with their homes.
Because of this, we’ve included Charnwood House in a wider investment programme to upgrade the communal areas and make sure our customers could take pride in their homes.
What were the issues?
Charnwood House and the surrounding area was experiencing a lot of ASB issues, mostly caused by non-residents who were targeting customers and getting into communal areas. This was worrying for our residents, especially those who had young families and didn’t feel safe.
Non-residents were also using the communal outdoor spaces to play football and generally cause a nuisance for our customers.
The area started to get a bad reputation and this, as well as some parts of the building looking dated, meant new tenants didn’t want to move in.
What did we do?
To properly understand what needed to change at Charnwood House, we touched base with customers to hear their concerns and take on board their feedback. From their responses and the consultation that followed, we identified their key areas of concern:
To tackle the ongoing ASB problems, we teamed up with local partners such as the police, local councillors and the council’s ASB team. Having different groups involved meant we got various perspectives on the best way to tackle the issue.
The police began to carry out extra patrols in the area, to increase visibility, which helped to reduce ASB. We also worked alongside the police and local authority to install CCTV cameras on our neighbouring properties in the area, which worked in conjunction with existing cameras in the community. This made it easier to identify any future perpetrators.
Working with Staffordshire Fire Service, we had also identified Charnwood House as one of our “taller buildings” which meant it was eligible to have enhanced fire safety measures.
So, we’ve worked together to improve the fire safety in the block by installing a new sprinkler system so that residents would feel more protected in the event of a fire.
We knew that residents wanted upgrades to the appearance of the building, to give them more pride in where they lived. After consulting with residents, we have:
- Replaced the current unsecure porch area with new “secure by design” doors, which are much more robust and would deter unauthorised access
- Replaced the old door entry system with a new fob system, which means only residents with a fob can enter and exit the building
- Upgraded internal and external lighting for increased security
- Redecorated internal areas
- Replaced the existing flooring to create a lighter, neater environment that was easier to clean.
There were a few communal outdoor areas that have struggled with ASB in the past. This included a communal piece of land where our Grounds Maintenance team and Rangers were often clearing empty bottles and litter.
We hosted a resident’s meeting to get some feedback on what to do with this area and the overwhelming request was for a garden. Residents told us they would love some outdoor space they could enjoy and that the children could play in – but it would need to be secure.
So, we started construction on the new garden! We turned the unused piece of land into a private garden area, with planters and seating and drying areas for residents. We also installed a new gate which is only accessible for residents and new metal bow top fencing on low level walls for improved security.
How has the investment helped?
Thanks to the investment works, there has been huge reduction in ASB complaints and residents feel safer in their homes. The extra external lighting has made residents feel safer when going out in the evening and they no longer see youths accessing the communal areas. The CCTV has also helped to resolve any matters that do come up.
Local businesses have also recorded less shop lifting and people loitering outside their properties since the works were completed.
One local worker told us, “I’ve worked at the supermarket for 5 years and there always used to be youths hanging around…but that seems to have stopped. We’ve seen more customers from [Charnwood House] spending their money in the shop.”
We’re really pleased with the success of the investment at Charnwood House. By working closely with our residents and taking on board their concerns and feedback, we’ve been able to create a safer and happier community.