A scheme to improve the quality of independent living accommodation in Nottingham is celebrating the completion of its latest flagship project.
Garfield Court in Radford is the 28th of Nottingham City Homes’ (NCH) independent living schemes to have benefited from a refurbishment and modernisation of its communal areas.
The £5m Grander Designs scheme has so far improved the living conditions of more than 700 of NCH’s older residents. The programme has provided residents with modernised and tastefully decorated communal lounges, corridors and outside space.
The work to each scheme has been carefully planned by Grander Designs' Project Manager, Alison Brandon, who is delighted with the success of the latest flagship scheme. She said: “Grander Designs has done so much more than just refurbish and modernise these schemes, it really has made a genuine difference to the people living there.
“Everything we have done, has been in partnership with the residents of our independent living schemes. They work with us to choose the style we go for, and we talk to them about any potential disruption, as and when work will be happening, and what they want to see in their communal areas.
“We consider the needs of every resident, using as many dementia friendly design principles as we can on all the refurbishments, to make sure our schemes are accessible to all.”
The latest scheme to be completed at Garfield Court in Radford was designed by local architects, HLP Design, and included the refurbishment of the communal lounge, as well as the addition of a rooftop terrace, sun lounge and purpose-built scooter store. There has also been new flooring throughout the corridor scheme, as well as a wide range of memorable imagery for the walls of the communal spaces.
After consultation with the residents, the project has also included raised beds for residents to grow vegetables and flowers, CCTV all around the scheme, as well as a special garden seating area around an existing tree in the entrance.
The creation of scooter stores has become a huge focus of Grander Designs, installing the dedicated spaces wherever possible. When the independent living schemes were originally built, accommodating scooters wasn’t even a consideration. Now scooters are widely used by residents, as they offer more independence.
Sixty-two-year-old Garfield Court resident, Melvyn Bee, can’t believe the difference the work has made to his home of 24 years. He said: “We’re saying goodbye to the old and hello to the new Garfield Court. It’s a fantastic change and I’m so pleased with it. I love this place, but it was starting to look a bit old and hardly anyone was using the communal room. I think these brand new facilities will kick start the social aspect of Garfield Court all over again.
“The icing on the cake is the scooter store. I have a scooter, which currently has to sit in my hallway. Now I’ll be able to park it up safely and charge it up, I think I’ll be out and about a lot more.”
Contractor Keepmoat Regeneration, part of ENGIE Group, has been working with Nottingham City Homes to deliver the Grander Designs project, alongside the Greener Designs team from Nottingham City Council. Across the first 28 schemes, work has included the installation of:
• more than 7,000 square metres of new flooring
• 2,200 new LED light fittings, lowering bills and providing better levels of lighting for older people
• just under 1,000 items of new modern furniture, including over 700 new chairs
• around 7,060 square metres of new ceilings.
Gill Moy, Director for Housing and Customer Services at Nottingham City Homes, said: “We have some fantastic communities in our independent living schemes, but we can sometimes find it hard to let these properties. Since the start of our Grander Designs scheme four years ago, we have seen a real improvement in the letting of these homes - and I’m not surprised, they look fantastic.”
One scheme in Top Valley, Townsend Court, showed the true success of the project in letting more homes, and improving the conditions for existing residents. When Grander Designs began, the scheme lacked kerb appeal, and out of 25 total flats, 11 were empty. There was no real social life for tenants, just a few used the courtyard garden and no gardening was done. Grander Designs installed raised beds, put in a greenhouse, renewed the flooring, lighting and furniture in the communal areas, as well as redecorating throughout and adding pictures and planters.
Following the work, the social life at the scheme has transformed. Activity coordinators from NCH work with residents to put together a social calendar, the communal lounge is used regularly and residents have been growing fruit and vegetables, gardening and sitting out in the courtyard most days. The greenhouse is regularly used, and local school children have even been invited to do some planting and gardening.
Just a few weeks after the scheme was finished, there were no more vacancies, helping to minimise rent loss and filling the properties which had been empty.
Gill continued: “Townsend Court is just one example of how this sort of work can make such a phenomenal difference o the quality of life for residents. It’s not just the physical refurbishment of a building, it’s creating an opportunity for residents to play an active part in their community.”
Martin Smithurst, Regional Managing Director for Keepmoat Regeneration, said: “We are pleased to be able to unveil the recent Garfield Court makeover with our partners and hope the residents will be very happy with their newly refurbished homes, refreshed communal areas and rooftop terrace.
“We are extremely proud of what the Grander Designs project has achieved over the years, which has largely been down to the collaborative way our team has been able to work with our partners to provide an excellent environment where older people want to live.”