Hi-Tech Eco Homes Visited by First Minister

Energy efficient properties need very little heating

First Minister Carwyn Jones is visiting tenants at the first council homes in Swansea to be built for a generation to see how they are settling in.

Ten two-bedroom homes and eight one-bedroom apartments have been built at Colliers Way and Cwrt Trevor in Penderry and are now occupied.

As part of a pilot scheme the new homes will help guide the way other council houses in Swansea are built in the future. Each of the new homes was designed to innovative, energy-efficient Passivhaus standards, meaning they need very little energy for heating and cooling.

Construction boosted the local economy by supporting and creating jobs, providing opportunities for apprentices and using local suppliers.

In recognition of the scheme's importance, Swansea Council has received a grant under the Welsh Government's Innovative Housing Programme, which will off-set some of the costs.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said: "I am pleased to meet with the new residents of Colliers Way and Cwrt Trevor and hear how they are settling in to their new top quality, energy efficient homes.    
"Safe, warm, affordable homes are the bedrock of community. We are working towards our ambitious target of delivering an additional 20,000 affordable homes by the end of this term of Government. Ending the Right to Buy and supporting councils to build social housing are central to this. 
"I'd like to pay my thanks to Swansea Council for their ambition and forward thinking and look forward to seeing them build more homes in future."   

The rest of the investment has come from Swansea's council homes capital budget which sees money from rents reinvested in improving thousands of existing council homes and providing new ones.

More than £50m has been invested in improvements in the last 12 months with a further £167m earmarked for the next three years.

Cllr Andrea Lewis, Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Housing, Energy and Building Services, said: "As soon as the UK Government lifted restrictions that meant we could build new council houses again in Swansea for the first time in many years we were determined to embark on a programme of building highly energy efficient affordable housing.

"This is being funded by revenue from council rents and not from council tax.

"Speaking to residents at Colliers Way they are very pleased with their new homes and are settling in well. This project will inform other council house construction schemes in coming years, both in terms of costs and specification.

"Although we've also attracted an Innovative Housing Fund Grant from the Welsh Government to help cover the costs of the development, we're keen on being further cost-efficient for other council house schemes in future."

During the construction phase there were more than 450 apprenticeship training days, where apprentices got to work side-by-side with skilled and experienced tradespeople.

Another two work experience candidates who had previously been long-term unemployed secured jobs with the council's Corporate Building and Property Building Services under the authority's Beyond Bricks and Mortar programme, with the team using local sub-contractors and suppliers.

The next development to be built will be at Parc Y Helig in Birchgrove, where again the council will be building high quality, energy efficient homes.

Swansea Council's Cabinet will also soon be asked for approval to allocate funds to facilitate enabling works there, prior to the construction of twelve one-bedroom apartments, and four two-bedroom apartments on site.

Council leader Cllr Rob Stewart said: "Not only are we tackling a lack of affordable housing in Swansea while making inroads into fuel poverty, the construction of Colliers Way has been completed by local tradespeople on behalf of our corporate building and property services team, so this project has created jobs, boosted skills and benefited local suppliers as well."

Photos and audio will be available after today's visit at 10.30am.

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