£166m price tag to repair properties in Flintshire

Reporter:

Hayley Collins

JUST 14 homes in Flintshire Council’s housing stock meet the required standard set by the Welsh Assembly.

A report, to go before the council’s housing overview and scrutiny committee today, reveals that out of 7,443 council properties, only 14 meet the Welsh Housing Quality Standard. (WHQS)

Housing bosses estimate it would cost £166 million to bring all the properties up to scratch.

According to the report, compiled by housing asset manager Mike Bernard, the majority of properties fall short of the standard due to the state of kitchens and lack of mains powered smoke detectors.

A total of 25 per cent of properties meet the required standard for having mains powered smoke detectors, which would cost the council £1.7 million to put right.

A spokesman for North Wales Fire and Rescue said: “This figure relates to the number of council properties which meet the WHQS for upgraded smoke and fire protectors - this means heat detectors are fitted in high risk areas such as kitchens.

“The rest of the properties are all fitted with hard wired smoke detectors which are connected to Carelink.

“The council is being very responsible and pro-active to make sure their properties have a high level of fire safety.”

Only 18 per cent of properties have adequate kitchens, which would cost £25.4 million to rectify and 42.2 per cent have insufficient central heating systems which would cost £19.6million to resolve.

The council only has between £9-10million to spend each year, leaving a shortfall of about £117million if the standard was to be achieved in five years.

The worst areas, which require an average of more than £50,000 spending on each property, are Dobshill, Flint, Gwespyr, Pont-y-Bodkyn and Queensferry.

Housing chiefs are now calling on members to give their views on setting up a potential asset management strategy for the housing stock, which will enable bosses to inform tenants which properties will be prioritised if tenants choose to stick with the council rather than transfer to a social housing landlord at the stock transfer ballot in the summer.

Members will be presented with three options – option A, to target all problems with properties in all areas; option B, to focus on specific areas and bring those homes up to scratch; or option C, to target particular issues, such as kitchens, in all areas.

Mr Bernard said in his report: “It is the view of the head of housing and head of asset management that option C is the most preferable option as it addresses tenants priorities for improvements and means that by the end of a six-year period each tenancy will benefit from a modernised kitchen, a modern heating system and WHQS standard smoke detector.”

Clare Budden, head of housing said: “Only 14 reach the standard as the council has insufficient funding in its capital programme each year to meet the standard despite maximising expenditure. As a result of this the council has agreed to ballot its tenants.

“Members are not being asked to approve an asset management strategy, but to give their views on investment options so that we can finalise a strategy for executive approval.”

See full story in the Leader

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