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Tower blocks can provide housing for a varied group of tenants, including for a variety of across a range of age groups, cultural backgrounds, ownership types.

Different criteria for different age groups (children, over – 50’s) is being recognised and incorporated into the management policies of the blocks.

Our research has shown that introducing good management policies can have a positive impact in reducing anti social behaviour and on reducing repair and maintenance costs.

 

REFURBISHMENT OPTIONS

 Basic

Conducive allocation policy

Resident Involvement

Good

Building good relations with residents

 Exemplary

n/a

Resident Involvement

 

The initial work on making contact should be part of a longer-term strategy. The aim of that strategy should be that there is a strong and effective residents association or similar group that is as representative as possible of the need of all residents, and that can act as the first point of contact for all those involved both in the refurbishment and also ongoing work afterwards.

 

What need to be done 

The first step is to identify what already exists. There may be a good residents group or there may be none. If the latter is the case then it will be useful to contact the local Council for Voluntary Service to identify any similar group in nearby housing. A representative of such a group could help by coming to any first meeting to describe what they do.

 

A first meeting should be well publicised (a letter to every flat and posters in the foyer and lifts). While this will be your chance to discuss plans for refurbishment it will also be an occasion for residents to air their concerns so be sure that the landlord is represented. Get a good facilitator to help design and run the meeting.

 

Basic practice 

The aim is to get a good group up and running to act as a focus for consultation. This may take several meetings: be prepared to invest in the costs of facilitation and support.

 

Good practice 

You should be seeking to ensure that the group can be self-sustaining, and that it has a group of people who can run the group and can play an active part in decision-making and indeed managing the refurbishment.

 

Exemplary practice 

The ideal situation would be to have a group that wants to work towards becoming a Tenant Management Organisation(TMO). A TMO is a body that takes on many of the functions associated with the running of the block (see separate sheet).

 

Other considerations

 

How residents work with you may also depend on their relationship with the landlord (the council or housing association) with whom they deal. Be prepared for some hostility and suspicion, especially if the tower has a history of social problems.

 

It is also the case that developing resident involvement takes time and that this will be going on while the refurbishment is being planned and delivered. It is important to start work on resident involvement as early as possible ion the process.

 

Benefits

Any work on refurbishing a block is likely to be far more successful if it is done with the full support of local residents. It is important to plan for this right from the start (see Building good relations with residents).

 

Typical Cost

□  Will vary widely depending on the initial situation

Funding opportunities:

□  Landlords may provide support, also New deal for Communities funds

Also see:

□  Building good relations with residents;

Teneant Management Ogranisation

Allocations Policy;

More information:

□  ‘Building Community Strengths’ published by the Community Development Foundation

□ ‘Skills in neighbourhood work’ (Routledge) is more detailed

Suppliers:

□  n/a

To register as a supplier click here...

 

 

Conducive allocation policy

 

It is often the case that tower blocks are unpopular places to live and that the people living in them do not feel very positive about them.

 

In an area of high demand this may not be seen as a problem by landlords since people in serious need of housing will take what is on offer. This has led to many examples of where tower blocks have become little more than ‘dumping grounds’. It may also be the case that blocks receive an unusually high level of tenants with social and behavioural problems compared to nearby low-rise housing. Longer–term residents have become angry and alienated as a result of this.

 

The people in the blocks may indeed be a major factor in damaging the quality of life. Vandalism, graffiti, littering, drug dealing and other anti-social behaviour all contribute to making blocks very unsatisfactory places to live.

 

There is a further cause of problems. Families with young children often find towers very difficult: simply letting children out to play can be difficult and dangerous.

 

While refurbishment can do a lot to improve matters, it may also be the case that a review of allocations policy is also desirable.

 

What need to be done

The key to a successful block is to ensure that all those in it are happy to be living there. There are a number of ways forward.

 

·         It is now quite common to only allocate families with children to the lowest floors (perhaps the first to the fourth or in some case to the tenth). This reduces the time they spend in lifts etc.

·         Other blocks simply do not take families with children; if children are born then arrangements are made for reallocation.

·         Some blocks are now only for older residents. Given that housing predictions suggest a big increase in the number of households of older people this may be a good way forward.

 

The Holly St. tower in Hackney in London is a good example of an over-50s block. The block was in a very problematic area but was refurbished as part of a major transformation of the estate and now has a concierge system and is very popular with residents.

 

Other considerations

 

It is sometimes the case that towers contain single bedroom housing which may be rare elsewhere. In many authorities the only single people likely to be housed are those with social or mental health problems: an isolated flat in a tower is often not a good solution to that person’s housing needs.  This issue requires careful resolution by both the landlord and relevant social services.

 

Benefits

Good security is essential if other improvements are not to be vandalised: the costs of such a system will be off-set by reduced maintenance bills.

 

Typical Cost

□  Will vary widely depending on staffing levels but a good well managed 24 hour scheme can cost up to £20 per flat per week.

 

Funding opportunities:

□  This will require ongoing commitment from the landlord.

Also see:

□  Security overview,

□  Access control

□  Vandal-resistant doors,

□  CCTV

More information:

□  High Hopes: Concierge, controlled entry and similar schemes for high rise blocks  Safe Neighbourhoods unit for DoE 1997

 

Suppliers:

□  n/a

To register as a supplier click here...  

     

 

Building good relations with residents

 

There can be very variable relations between landlords and tenants in towers. Those with high resident turnover and a bad reputation may have very little in the way of a residents’ association, while those with a stable population may be very well-organised. However the opposite may also be true: a very poor block may have a small but highly-motivated tenants group desperate for change.

 

Support of residents for refurbishment is crucial, assuming that they will remain through the work or are to return after the work is done. That support may also make all the difference in ensuring that the improvements are lasting and sustainable.

 

What needs to be done

The first step is to find out what residents group or exists in the block. Meet with them, explain the overall aims, scope and duration of the refurbishment. Their questions will help you understand their key concerns. It is likely that only a small percentage of the residents are involved in the group: get their help (and fund the work) to organise a survey of all residents if appropriate and to organise a well-publicised meeting for all residents. This should lead to a consultation process on issues such as security, design etc.

 

Keep everyone well-briefed: a newsletter will be important. The scope of involvement will depend on circumstances: if major works are to take place in each flat or they are to be decanted (moved temporarily) then the occupants of every flat must be involved.

 

Other considerations

 

A resident engagement strategy should be part of the overall refurbishments plans, with time and resources allowed to build up good relations. (see Resident Involvement)

 

Residents should be consulted on design issues, especially on matters where their approval is important: if everyone hates the chosen colour scheme for repainting this is a bad start!

 

Make sure they are also actively involved where possible. If there is no residents group then a short-term forum will be desirable with representatives with whom the refurbishment team can be in regular contact.

There should be a designated person to be ‘first point of contact’ for residents throughout the process: they should be able to contact this person directly if any problems arise. This is likely to involve budgeting for at least a half-time post.

 

Benefits

  • Resident support for the work is essential if you wish to avoid opposition, vandalism etc.

  • Involving residents in the design process is likely to help ensure the work meets their needs and hopes for the block.

Typical Cost

□  A part-time or full-time staff person for the period before and during the work being done

A budget for meetings, publicity, consultation and support for the residents group

 

Funding opportunities:

□  If the work is being done in a regeneration area there may be specific funds available for community engagement

Also see:

□  Resident Involvement

More information:

□  n/a

Suppliers:

  n/a

To register as a supplier click here... .

Project partners:           | Price Myers: Sustainability |Battle McCarthy | Architype | STBI | Franklin Andrews |            

           

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