AN iconic building on a Newcastle housing estate has won the prize in the Preservation and Rejuvenation category at this year’s Constructing Excellence in the North East (CENE) Awards.
The 12-storey Tom Collins House, which is owned and managed by Byker Community Trust (BCT) housing association has benefitted from a £1.2 million external and communal refurbishment.
“It is a real honour to receive this award in recognition of the large-scale refurbishment of this iconic building,” said Jill Haley, BCT’s chief executive. “Our aim is to work with tenants to improve their lives through any investment which we make.
“Since BCT was established in July 2012, we have invested £33 million into the estate and have committed a further £14 million of improvements until 2025. The works that have been undertaken to Tom Collins House have modernised this iconic building and hugely benefitted all 45 residents living within the scheme.”
BCT said it understands that the sheltered housing scheme, consisting of 39 self-contained apartments and communal areas, was one of the first high-rise buildings in the North East region to undergo the full installation of a new sprinkler system in response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017.
The works also included external improvements to replace the aluminium cladding on the full south elevation as well as addressing health and safety measures, fire safety improvements and upgrading of communal landlord services.
The improvements are said to have transformed the building for modern living and improved the quality of life for residents, including accessibility throughout the building such as new entrance ramps, creating specialist storage rooms for scooters and improving the external environment and communal garden improvements.
The annual CENE awards celebrates the North East built environment. There are fourteen award categories demonstrating how professionals use their skills to develop, regenerate and conserve the built environment, and showcase the most inspirational initiatives and developments covering innovation, integration and collaborative working, value, digital construction and offsite.
The awards ceremony was held at The Grand Gosforth Park Hotel last Friday. Regional winners will then go onto the national final in Autumn 2019.
The project was commended and officially opened by Sir Keir Starmer MP, Shadow secretary of state during his visit to Byker last November when the project completed.
BCT worked in partnership with residents and several partners on the delivery of the project including Esh Property Services, Newcastle City Council, Historic England, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and Storm Tempest.
Tom Collins House was built between 1975 and 1978 to a masterplan designed by the architect Ralph Erskine. The works that have been completed comply with the Byker Heritage Partnership Agreement and Historic England guidelines.
“Improving a Grade II* Listed building not only brings its own challenges, but successfully completing a refurbishment project of this scale while the building is fully occupied requires meticulous planning and cooperation,” Haley added.
“Residents were fully consulted throughout the whole project from start to finish and gave feedback on the artwork and design themes which have been applied to the communal areas. Involving residents throughout the project resulted in 98% customer satisfaction.
“The new communal lounge and kitchen provide a welcoming area for older residents to meet and encourages social interaction and reduces isolation. Residents are now holding regular activities during evenings and at luncheon clubs within the communal areas, which is helping to improve the quality of life in the community.”