GHA’s newest development meets accessibility needs
THE first people will soon be able to move into 20 new homes in St Sampson’s that the Guernsey Housing Association has completed in partnership with States Housing.
The combination of 12 rental and eight partial-ownership properties has been finished after a slight delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
They are at Pont Colliche in Saltpans Road.
After acquiring the site at the tail end of 2018, the GHA, with support from Employment & Social Security, worked hard to meet the demand for one-bedroom flats with enhanced access.
‘Normally this project would be on a 15-month contract, but three weeks before completion we went into lockdown and then when we entered later phases of the exit from lockdown we could have only five people on site, which meant progress was a little slow for a while,’ GHA chief executive Steve Williams said.
‘But now we’ve got the keys and we’re ready to welcome the residents in as soon as possible.’
Doorways are wider in the heat-efficient units, the gardens are low maintenance and there is plenty of space to accommodate people with restricted mobility or for those who use a wheelchair.
This is because there is a pressing need for more one-bed flats as the ageing population look to down-size to somewhere that is more accessible, or for new applicants to find a place suited to their needs.
Deputy Michelle Le Clerc, president of ESS, the committee responsible for social housing and overseeing the responsibilities of the GHA, was pleased to see the modern units meet some of the island’s demand for accessible housing.
‘We work closely with Housing at the States and the GHA to look at the needs of the waiting list and find suitable areas of land for development,’ she said.
Through the GHA, ESS offers a partial ownership scheme which enables people to get a foot on the housing ladder.
‘These flats are fantastic because we know that the biggest part of our waiting list is one-bedroom flats with accessibility – and when we build from scratch, we achieve all the things we need to meet those needs,’ Deputy Le Clerc said.
Director of housing at the States, Lynne McLagen, explained that all rentals were on the ground floor because people with restricted mobility were the priority.
‘We are looking at a housing strategy that looks at the needs of people in the island as we do have an ageing demographic, and this won’t change, so we’re constantly planning for the future,’ she said.
‘Accessibility is not just about features of the units, we need to consider where the site is, what is nearby so residents don’t have to rely on cars all the time, making sure it is relatively flat and near to shops.’
Of the GHA’s 982 properties, all have been done in conjunction with the relevant departments at the States.
ESS provided a grant of £1.65m., which covered 27% of the total cost of the new housing. The remaining 73% was funded by a bank loan.