Sunday, May 11, 2014

Morven Terrace and Ancrum Place sheltered housing

Towards the end of 2013,  I expressed concern about the Housing Department's decision to decommission two sheltered properties at the Morven Terrace/Ancrum Place sheltered housing without advising the sheltered tenants or local councillors.   Amenity Housing is being considered for a relatively small number of sheltered housing properties that the Housing Department is finding hard to let and is offered (without warden services) to persons over the age of 50.

Following a meeting I organised with the tenants at Morven Terrace/Ancrum Place that senior housing department also attended, there was a view from tenants that there is a need to exhaust all possibilities to get new sheltered tenants before any conversion to amenity housing.   These included clarity on the right of existing sheltered tenants aged under 75 to their sheltered TV licence, the position regarding council house sales and amenity housing and the possible viability of providing external lifts to the first floor properties at the Morven Terrace/Ancrum Place sheltered housing to make the upstairs flats more accessible [and therefore attractive] to sheltered tenants.

On the lifts proposal, the Housing Department has now advised me of the estimated costs the council’s architects have come up with:
Cost per block
1. Builder work to form shafts £ 9,900
2. Steelwork, lintels, render etc £ 5,200
3. Roof £ 4,000
4. Lift Car £30,000
5. Power etc £ 4,000
6. Prelims £ 8,000
7. Contingencies (10% as @ budget stage) £ 6,000
sub-total £67,100
8. Fees @8.5% £5,700 
Total £72,800
In response, I expressed astonishment at the cost and received the following feedback from the Housing Department:
The costs provided by City Architects are based on tender rates for similar works for recently competitively tendered projects.
These are substantial works including the need for 6.5m high rendered blockwork lift shaft, foundations and pit for the lift motor, the new lift shaft would have a mono pitch timber and single ply membrane roof. Allowances must be made for integration with the existing stairwell and the existing access deck at first floor level. Alterations to the existing access deck would also be required. 
Within the cost there is an allowance for a new three phase electrical supply required to power the lift, also links to telephone line and fire detection.  An allowance has been made for contractors preliminaries i.e. site set up and ongoing site running costs based on current pricing.   An allowance has also been made for contingencies to cover unforeseen costs which is standard estimating procedure. Design fees etc must also be included.
In addition to the installation costs there would be significant ongoing running costs associated with lifts including health and safety monthly maintenance visits, emergency call out response and reactive maintenance. 
There is no capital or revenue budget provision for such works. These are significant costs. Given that there is an overall surplus of sheltered accommodation within the City, from which the needs of those requiring sheltered housing can be met, it seems it would be difficult to justify such expenditure.
I have replied to the Housing Department stating that over £70k per block appears ridiculously high and the council should be seeking alternative quotes from the private sector.   The department has now agreed to do this and I will keep the tenants of Ancrum Place and Morven Terrace sheltered housing updated as I hear further from the department when alternative quotations are received.