You will not be surprised to know that due to the COVID 19 crisis the West End Gardens development site was shut down, like most other sites in the country, for safety reasons for a few weeks. With Government restrictions being eased slightly, work has now recommenced on the site. In the interests of safety this is a gradual process with strict adherence to the health and safety advice given to construction sites by the Government.
Our developer Palace Green Homes (PGH) have advised us that there may be delays to the delivery of construction materials and this will make progress slower than planned. In addition it is likely that due to the economic downturn, it will take longer to sell the open market houses on the site than the period originally envisaged. It is important to understand that the affordable houses that HCLT are purchasing are being subsidised by the sale of these same open market houses.
The bottom line is that we have been advised that our first house will now be delivered in February 2021. The other 18 houses will then be delivered over a period of 21 months finishing in December 2022. The original plan, which we were working to only a few weeks ago, had our first houses arriving in August 2020 and the final house in August 2021. PGH have emphasised that this is their worst case estimate and are hoping to improve on this schedule.
This is of course a major blow to HCLT and the villages of Haddenham & Aldreth who were supporting us in this venture. We were looking forward to welcoming our first tenants in our first house this August. We were well advanced in preparing a short list of applicants to whom we were going to offer a tenancy in the next few weeks. Clearly these offers cannot now be made so soon and we are contacting all our applicants to advise them of this delay and what will happen next.
Considerable work has been undertaken by HCLT in the last few months behind the scenes and, fortunately, none of this work has been wasted. The Trustees assure you they are just as committed to this project as they were before this unexpected and unfortunate delay. If you are interested in becoming a HCLT Trustee please do come forward. Many of the existing Trustees have now been onboard for many years and as HCLT enters a new era of home management, new blood and new skills are always welcome.
As a general update we commenced back on 11th May and have set the site up to deal with the Covid-19 situation which means a smaller labour force on site.
We have progressed the utilities with the Mains Water now installed along with the HV and LV Electric Supplies, however we have a delay on the new sub station due to UKPN not booking in new installations due to Covid-19. This will again delay the overheads coming down.
The main access road is now surfaced up to the base course and we have all the footings in for the first 22 houses, the brickwork is at different levels of progress on all these plots from sub structure brickwork through to the gables being complete.
The first plot, today, had the roof trusses installed ready for the roof covering to take place and the next 3 plot's trusses will be going on in the next few weeks.
The drainage is also progressing with attenuation tanks and the pumping station moving on.
Hopefully we have seen the back of the poor weather and the site is starting to dry out a little which will help greatly with progress.
With regards to reporting not a lot has changed a great deal operations wise from last month so the houses and roads are progressing as programmed, walls are being built, roads are being tarmacked.
We have been working on program for the last month and concentrated on progressing the dwellings themselves.
This has enabled us to excavate and concrete the foundations for the first 12 Plots and we have commenced all the sub structure brickwork for these plots. Plots 1 to 4 have the beam and block flooring and plot drainage installed which in turn has allowed us to commence the superstructure brickwork which you will see coming up quickly over the next few weeks. These 12 plots will progress together at staggered stages.
The site estate roads have now been set out with a view for these to be tarmacked to base course by the end of March 2020 which will be a major milestone on site as it will make the site more accessible for construction and keep the site and area cleaner.
The services have progressed with BT and AWA hopefully completing by the end of March and we are hoping to have the electricity finalised in 16 weeks? time. (This is the lead in for a new substation.)
We still have a lot of challenges ahead and we appreciate the patience and cooperation from the residents of Haddenham, especially our closet ones, and we will of course always try to keep any disruption to a minimum.
It has been a little frustrating for us since the last update as it has pretty much rained constantly from then until now so it has been a hard slog through a lot of mud and sticky clay but we have continued to make progress albeit a bit slower than we envisaged.
You may have noticed we have managed to tarmac the access road from Hardwicke Fields into the site, this is a temporary measure and the decision was made to do this to reduce the mud being transferred from the site to the highway.
We are still awaiting firm dates from the Utility supplier as to when the overhead cable will be dropped and the new sub-station installed but as I may have mentioned previously, these companies are very hard to pin down, so we are really in their hands. In preparation we have set out and will be casting the sub-station base in the next few weeks.
With regards to the other utilities these are being progressed and we are installing ductwork ready for the water and BT services to be pulled through.
The Houses are progressing as programme and we have set out the first four plots and have poured the foundations for three of these with the substructure blockwork starting this week and all being well, the superstructures starting by the end of the month.
The access roads on the site are taking shape now and we have installed the sub-base to the main access road into the site and down to our site set- up, which is now fully operational with all the containers and cabins installed for Paul and his onsite team.
It is always a difficult time of the year weather-wise but we are looking forward to pushing on and delivering your properties in 2020 which will be an exciting time for all.
After getting all the pre-start planning conditions signed off, we commenced in carrying out the remedial works to the site entrance to ensure that all vehicle and pedestrian movements could be carried out in a safe manner. This also included installing tree protection to the two trees on the parish land directly in front of the site. (We are having a slight delay in getting the overhead power diverted underground but this isn’t anything unusual where Utility Companies are involved and we are pushing hard to get this resolved.)
With regards to the main site the initial operation was to carry out a full site strip of topsoil which has been carried out by our groundworker and all this material has been stored on site to minimise any lorry movements through the village. We envisage that this topsoil will be reused on the project when making up the soft landscaped areas.
One of the next operations was to get all the infrastructure works in place and over the past few weeks we have been installing all the mains drainage that runs through the site and have been setting out for the access roads and foundations. This has been progressing well despite all the recent rain.
You may have seen that we have commenced the access road from West End into the site which we hope to have complete, minus the topcoat of tarmac, by mid-January next year. During this operation we will be looking to minimise any disruption to the access for Hardwicke Fields and the track that runs adjacent to the site, and are confident we will be able to keep these open but can we please ask you to be patient if any disruption does occur. (We will strive to give the major users of both routes as much notice as possible if their access is going to be hindered at any point and I’m sure our onsite team will try and resolve any issues that may occur.)
Whilst this is happening, we have programmed to commence the foundations in tandem with the access road works, again with a view to start the superstructure works in January 2020 when people will start to see the properties coming out of the ground. (It is sometimes hard to envisage progress at the minute due to all the works that have taken place being under the ground.)
From January, we will be looking to increase our labour force on site and in turn install our temporary site offices for our Site Manager, Paul Elliott, and his team to run the project as smoothly as possible for us and the residents of Haddenham.
Since planning permission was granted in 2018, things have been progressing well on site, including the completion of a second archaeological dig in November 2018. The initial report found evidence of an early Roman farmstead on part of the site.
The second dig provided a unique opportunity for local residents and children at the Robert Arkenstall Primary School to visit the site to meet with the team of archaeologists. They enjoyed a special day out looking at fragments of animal bone and ancient pottery and learning more about their local village history.
In January 2019, we received some fantastic news that our bid to the Homes England Community Housing fund was successful and have been awarded a grant payment of just over £42,000. This is a great achievement for the CLT and will see vital funds go towards the project. With the help from EC Community Housing we have also been interviewing ethical banks to secure the additional funding needed to purchase the affordable homes when they are completed.
Work began on the enabling works in August 2019 to get the site ready for construction of the site access road and diversions/connections of utility services. Groundworks are proceeding throughout the Autumn/Winter with construction of the first houses underway in early 2020. The first homes in the development are expected to be ready for occupation in late summer 2020, including the first CLT owned affordable homes. During this time we will be working closely with Palace Green Homes to try to keep disruption from construction activity to a minimum and will be keeping the neighboring residents informed of our progress and proposed works.