Town Centre House will be refurbished for social tenants

A block of flats with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in its roof will soon be transformed and brought back into use as social housing.

Published: Thursday, 14th March 2024

Town centre house exterior

Cherwell District Council’s contractor Beard Construction is starting works on site at Town Centre House in Banbury this week to rebuild the roof and make a range of other improvements. The works are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Councillor Nicholas Mawer, Portfolio Holder for Housing, said: “We have an ambition to drive up the quality of social housing in north Oxfordshire, and although we manage a relatively low number of properties, we are determined to lead by example.

“With repairs to the roof needed anyway, we are taking the opportunity to invest in a thorough refurbishment of Town Centre House. This forward-thinking project will ensure that tenants can benefit from secure accommodation for years to come.”

The council took over the management of Town Centre House in 2016 for use as social housing. There will be 36 flats provided at Town Centre House and the improvements include fire safety upgrades and remodelling to make some of the units more family friendly.

When, in 2022, national government alerted local authorities about the potential risks of RAAC concrete, the council relocated tenants as a precautionary measure and since then the building has been empty.

An analysis of the costs of repairing the RAAC roof on the leased building demonstrated that purchasing Town Centre House would provide the most cost-effective long term solution for the local taxpayer.

The council accessed the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ Local Authority Housing Fund to make best use of the resources available to it.

To meet the terms of this grant, the first letting of the flats will be for refugees who have moved to the district on government resettlement schemes. The properties will be used in the long term to assist with the district’s wider housing pressures.

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