Work on innovative council apartments for older people hits milestone

One of the most innovative housing developments in Cardiff is nearing completion on the site of the former Eastern High School in Rumney.

On an elevated site with spectacular views over the Bristol Channel to the south and the Brecon Beacons to the north, the new Aspen Grove development will see more than 200 low carbon homes completed in phases before the summer of 2024.

Built through the Cardiff Living programme, a development partnership between Cardiff Council and Wates Residential, the scheme has benefited from more than £4m of Welsh Government Innovative Housing Programme (IHP) funding that will help to create 65 new council homes, including a mix of 21 two-, three- and four-bedroom houses.

The most significant element of the site, though, is Addison House, a four-storey block containing 44 one- and two-bedroom apartments designed to meet the needs of older people and the first of 10 such ‘Community Living’ developments to be built across the city as part of Cardiff Council’s Older Persons’ housing strategy.

The council and developers staged a ‘topping out’ ceremony marking the completion of the highest point of the block. It is expected that the flats will be completed and ready for tenants next July.

When finished, the block will provide spacious, accessible and adaptable flats for older people, promoting independent living. Four apartments are fully wheelchair accessible with two of those benefiting from additional adaptations, such as ‘rise and fall’ kitchen units, installed from the beginning. The community living building will also provide a range of communal facilities including two lounges, a roof terrace overlooking the Bristol Channel, a medical room and a large communal garden and guest suite. While giving residents the chance to socialise, it will also act as a hub of services for older people living in the wider community.

Inside all the properties on the new estate there will be eco-friendly innovations including ground-source heat pumps, underfloor heating, Smart hot water cylinders, solar panels, battery storage, electric vehicle charging points and an intelligent energy management system delivered by Cardiff-based sustainable energy company Sero that will enable homes to be independent of the National Grid at peak times, reducing electricity bills.

Around the estate, pavements and driveways incorporate Suds (sustainable urban drainage systems) while a network of trees is being planted to provide shade in hot weather.

To help fund the construction of the council properties, 143 of the homes are being sold privately by Wates while a further six will be offered for sale on a shared equity basis via First Homes Cardiff, with 70% of the cost paid by the purchaser and 30% retained by the council.

Cllr Lynda Thorne, Cardiff Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, attended the ‘topping out’ ceremony and said she was delighted at the progress made on Addison House – named after Viscount Addison, the politician who led the drive to build council houses after the First World War. “These apartments are a key part of our plan to deliver 4,000 new council homes in Cardiff – the most of any council in Wales,” she said.

“They – and the other properties on this site – will make a huge impact on the standard of housing in the city and the apartments will provide an opportunity for council tenants whose families have grown up and left home to downsize, freeing up homes for families who are on the waiting list.

“They also sit perfectly within our strategy to be a carbon-neutral city by 2030 and embody the council’s Stronger, Fairer, Greener commitment, announced recently by the leader.”

Edward Rees, Regional Director for Wates Residential, added: “Topping out ceremonies go back centuries and represent a significant step in a build process.

“Addison House has been specifically designed for people who are approaching or have reached retirement age, and everything has been thought of to meet their every need.

“Soon, these state-of-the-art homes will be ready for people to move into and benefit from the latest technologies that will minimise energy use and bills. We can’t wait to welcome them here.”

Notes for editors:

Addison House is one of 10 new ‘Community Living’ buildings being delivered through Cardiff Council’s house building programme to provide accessible and adaptable older person council housing across the city. The 10 new buildings will deliver in the region of 600 new flats and will see the council invest around £150m in older person accommodation.

The principle of a ‘Community Living’ building is not only to provide modern, attractive older person flats that are more accessible and can adapt around a person’s changing needs – removing the need for minor adaptations – but also to act as a hub for older person services not only for the residents of the building but also the wider community. Each scheme includes flexible rooms that can be used to provide services through the council teams and also other partners such as the local health board. The intention is to ensure residents can remain living independently in their own home and if they begin to need support as they grow older this can be delivered through the services and staff based in the building.