Housing Project Research

We work on area, neighbourhood and estate based housing strategies and specialise in community-led work including Options Appraisal and research into the needs of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communites.

Cruddas Park, Newcastle. Cruddas Park is an estate of some eleven tower blocks and associated low-rise properties in the West End of Newcastle, approximately one mile from the City Centre. We were appointed with the architects Halsall Lloyd Partnership to carry out an Option Appraisal on these blocks, in the context of the other high rise blocks in the City. Consequently, we then developed a comprehensive regeneration strategy for the blocks that included stock retention and refurbishment of some blocks, coupled with remodelling within the blocks, and disposal of four of the blocks to the private sector to create a more mixed tenure estate (whereas ‘ Your Homes Newcastle’ had originally favoured demolition and comprehensive re-development). PSC led on the demand analysis, option appraisal and community consultation and engagement part of the Option Appraisal. Further development work was carried out by Ryder HKS and Cole Thompson Anders, but we were subsequently separately appointed to lead a second Phase of consultation and engagement with residents in 2005. This scheme, funded by Newcastle’s ALMO, the Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder, New Deal for Communities and through private sector investment was intended to incorporate energy efficiency measures, wind turbines, solar panels and a high standard of design for this previously unloved estate.

Cooper House, Hulme, Manchester. In November 2006, we completed a strategy for Northern Counties Housing Association for a problematic high rise block in Hulme, Manchester. Working with John McCall Architects, we developed a solution that combined refurbishment and remodelling and new build with new management systems, a revised approach to allocations and lettings, and a revamped approach to tackling crime and poor security.

Avenham Estate, Preston. We have had extensive involvement in the Avenham Estate in Preston. A troubled estate in the past, Avenham had the worst reputation in Preston. It originally included seven tower blocks (two were sold to the private sector in the early 1990s) and associated low rise and medium rise properties. By the mid 1990s, the estate was suffering from severe demand problems and associated problems of crime and anti-social behaviour. Steve Sharples wrote the ‘Changing Avenham’ strategy for Collingwood Housing Association (now Contour), to transform the estate and also (with PCA) the successful £9.5million Estate Renewal Challenge Fund bid, which provided the resources to implement the strategy. This was a combination of high-rise refurbishment and low-rise demolition and new build. The strategy also involved developing intensive area-based housing management systems and a comprehensive resident involvement structure, which PSC subsequently developed for the new landlord, AvenQuest Homes. Upon completion of the Stock Transfer from the Council to Collingwood’s subsidiary, AvenQuest Homes, we were asked to carry out an in depth demand study on the estate. This led to a decision to demolish two of the five tower blocks. The work transformed what had been the least popular of Preston’s 92 estates into a high demand, stable estate with a strong local community. As part of our Demand Study for AvenQuest, we also examined the prospects for the three remaining towerblocks in Council Ownership in the Moor Lane area of Preston. Our study, and the Council’s associated stock condition work, was instrumental in the decision to demolish these blocks in 2001.

Tatton Court, Handforth. Following our work in Avenham, Collingwood asked us to consider the future of another tower block, Tatton Court in Handforth. Collingwood asked us to consider whether this block, which they had received in a stock transfer from Manchester City Council, might be suitable for refurbishment and conversion to provide specialist elderly accommodation. We carried out an in depth study of existing local provision, demographic trends and did some extensive local market testing with groups such as Age Concern, and over 60’s groups and concluded that the scheme would be viable – leading to the successful adoption of the project.

Glasgow Housing Association. Originally appointed as Independent Tenant’s Adviser to 8 of the 31 Local Housing Organisations involved in the Glasgow City Council stock transfer (2000 to 2002), we were subsequently retained to work with them for the next three years to develop their investment and housing management strategies. The organisations we worked with contained over 30 high-rise blocks across the city. These included, what are generally regarded as, the most difficult to manage and let clusters of high rise blocks – the Red Road flats in Springburn and the Sighthill blocks (which also had the highest proportion of asylum seekers and refugees in the UK). We also supported the development of strategies for Dalmarnock, Drumchapel, and Easterhouse, which contain more than 15 high rise blocks.

Castle Vale, Liverpool Housing Trust. Steve Sharples was appointed by GOWM in 1992, to help prepare the initial ideas on the establishment of the Castle Vale Housing Action Trust in the six months prior to the announcement of it’s establishment. He subsequently acted as Independent Tenant’s Adviser for the period 2003 to 2005, supporting the development of the masterplan and the appointment of Registered Social Landlord partners. Steve also acted as ITA to seven of the retained high rise blocks in the Liverpool HAT and wrote the Liverpool HAT’s ‘High-Rise Crime and Security Strategy’. Christine Bailey of PSC worked originally for Riverside Housing Association as Liverpool Development Manager, overseeing both the high-rise catch up repairs programme and the improvement programme, and subsequently moved to the HAT as its Community Development and Tenant Support Manager.

Raby Street & Vicarage Road. The Raby Street/Vicarage Road area, in All Saints, Wolverhampton, is an ethnically diverse area of older terraced housing situated in the All Saints and Blakenhall Community Development Ltd area. We were commissioned in 2006 by ABCD to produce a community-led action plan that would help regenerate the area. Working with a strong group of local residents and a steering group that brought them together with senior staff from the City Council and ABCD, we produced a Neighbourhood Action Plan that was accepted by all parties as the basis for the future regeneration of the area.

Talking with Tenants, Newcastle. In the run-up to the establishment of its council housing Arms Length Management Organisation ‘Your Homes Newcastle,’ PSC were commissioned to design and deliver an initial city-wide consultation exercise with over 34,000 households. This programme – ‘Talking with Tenants’- included:
– Over 30 roadshows/exhibitions
– Newsletters and brochures
– Stakeholder events
We were subsequently appointed to carry out the second phase of work – with a similar programme – which led to the successful establishment of the ALMO.

Garston, Liverpool. We worked for two years with the Garston Urban Village Partnership (GUVP) as the community consultants for the Garston-Under-the-Bridge area. The GUVP, comprising Liverpool City Council, South Liverpool Housing, Riverside Housing Association, Liverpool Housing Trust and the Speke Garston Partnership, were working to regenerate a mixed tenure area of some 1,600 households with limited demolition, new build and refurbishment.

PS Consultants provided an impartial consultation service between the GUVP and the residents of the area. We carried out two major household surveys with detailed one to one surveys (with sample sizes of 65% and up to 89% in proposed demolition areas). The results of the surveys shaped the direction of the proposals. Garston-Under-the-Bridge included a mixture of private tenants, social rented tenants and owner-occupiers, as well as businesses and other non-resident stakeholders.

Critical Friend, CPO in Greets Green. In 2005/6 we acted as ‘Critical Friend’ to approximately 200 homes in the Greets Green area of Sandwell. The area was subject to CPO (Compulsory Purchase Order) and full clearance following a neighbourhood renewal assessment. Our job was to work with residents to advise them on their rights in respect of the CPO process and to support the development of re-housing models (e.g. self build). Although a small community, it was ethnically very diverse and we used simultaneous translation in 6 languages during resident meetings

Housing Improvement Policies. PSC acted as communication consultants to West Lancashire Council in a major consultation on council housing improvement options across the District. This involved identifying seventeen sub areas within the district , and tailoring information and consultation to each of the sub areas.

Researching the Housing and Related Needs of the Black and Minority Ethnic Community in Woking. We carried out research for Woking Borough Council’s Housing Department into the housing and other experiences of the sizeable Woking ethnic minority community. This involved in-depth interviews withover 400 BME households, exploring their current housing, their future housing needs and the possible ways Woking Borough Council could assist.

Researching the Housing and Related Needs of the Black and Minority Ethnic Community. On behalf of Chesterfield Borough Council and a small Steering Group that included community representatives, we worked with the community and stakeholders to investigate the housing and related needs of Chesterfield’s small but diverse BME community. Chesterfield has a population of around 100,000 people, of whom less than 1% are members of the BME community. Through door-to-door and postal surveys with both stakeholder organisations in the statutory, voluntary and community sectors, and residents’ focus groups, we worked to produce a short, medium and long-term strategy for the Council and its partners to improve services and respond to BME needs in cost effective and practical ways. In order to deliver the door-to-door element of this project, we recruited and trained a team of four individuals from within the Chesterfield BME community, who were able to draw upon language skills and contacts within their communities to help boost our overall response. This resulted in an overall response rate of around 1 in 3 BME households, and 15% of BME individuals in the Borough.

Researching the Housing Needs of the Black and Minority Ethnic Community. In 2005 we completed a research project for the North Wales RSL Equality Partnership, looking at the very different needs and experiences of North Wales’ tiny ethnic minority population, and assisted the preparation of NWREP’s joint BME housing needs strategy. This again involved survey work with BME households, across an area of more than 600 square miles, scattered across six Boroughs.
The North Wales BME population forms less than 1% of the 660,000 population of North Wales, making this an extremely difficult project to coordinate, nevertheless we were able to speak to over 200 householdsin detail, about their circumstances.

European Housing Issues. Steve Sharples of PSC wrote a report for the (then) DOE and PEP on Sweden’s attempts to tackle problems in the ‘1,000,000 home programme’ it had embarked on the 1970’s and which had created large numbers of largely un-lettable high rise estates in the major cities. He has also been guest speaker on British social housing issues, and particularly attempts to tackle the problem of low demand high-rise, at international conferences in Delft, Dublin, Utrecht, Malmo, and Brussells, where he was guest speaker at the Viboso ‘Back to the Living City’ Conference.