Enabling independent living for residents with disabilities – Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure Ltd
Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure Ltd was working on behalf of client, HB Villages Ltd, to construct independent living homes in Walsall, West Midlands for people with physical or learning disabilities.
HB Villages is a privately owned property development and investment company delivering specialist housing in community settings across the UK, in partnership with social housing, charities and support providers.
Outlining the development, Site Manager Alan Hardy said:
“Our client Villages has commissioned similar schemes throughout the country to assist local authorities in promoting independent living for people with learning or physical disabilities.
“This project is a large, brand new traditional brick building with a pitched and tiled roof. The building consists of eight apartments on the ground floor, a small office and eight apartments on the first floor with an overnight room for an emergency carer. Each floor has four apartments for people with learning disabilities and four apartments for people with physical disabilities.
“HB villages work closely with Lifeways – a non-profit organisation – which liaises with local authorities to identify suitable residents for the properties. Each apartment will be adapted specifically to each individual’s needs.”
Residents and the local shops were also updated each month on progress of the project by a newsletter which was personally delivered by hand. An external notice board was positioned just outside the pedestrian entrance outlining details of the contract and a larger copy of the monthly newsletter for the benefit of passers-by.
“I have been surprised by the positive comments from parents from the children of the local school and other individuals. A green travel plan was also developed and is sent to each subcontractor or visitor before the first visit to site. Wherever possible we try to employ local subcontractors and labour.”
One of the main challenges associated with the project was its close proximity to residential properties, a church hall, primary school and shops. Alan said:
“Noise, dust and litter have been the main areas of concern for our team. Any noisy works are scheduled after 9.00am and no later than 5.00pm during Monday to Friday.
“Saturday working is allowed as long as we do not disturb the surrounding residents. No Sunday working is allowed. Regular litter picks are carried out and the roads and pavements are cleaned daily.”
Environmental considerations included protecting several mature trees within the boundary of the site with Herras fencing to form a tree protection area. No work was carried out within these areas and the storage of materials was also restricted.
A smoking or e-cigarette cabin was established out of sight of the general public, as well as other operatives who do not smoke and do not wish to inhale it.
Commenting on the effective community relations, Alan said:
“To date we have an excellent relationship with all concerned. Several positive comments have been recorded on our comments/complaints forms. These forms are posted with the monthly newsletters. No negative comments have been raised to date. The residents and local businesses have also been informed that this site has a defibrillator in case of emergencies.”
As well as engaging in fruitful communications with the local neighbourhood, the project team assisted several residents with advice on DIY. They also provided a local football club with surplus insulation and other building materials for their new changing rooms. Alan said: “We aim to carry out a re-fit of the community hall kitchen which is located the other side of our fence. The local vicar who runs the hall visits us regularly just for a chat and a cup of tea.”