‘Outdated and unsafe’ are some of issues residents have with Southwick affordable homes

Improving Southwick Estate was identified as a priority but suffered delays during the pandemic.

Friday, 8th October 2021, 12:02 pm
Council flats in Southwick. Photo by Derek Martin

Councillors have now approved extra funding to explore options fully.

Southwick Estate has 248 homes across 15 blocks, 13 of which are owned by Adur Homes- the council’s social housing arm.

Adur District Council said that ‘significant work and investment’ was needed to bring the blocks up to a ‘decent homes standard’.

The authority concluded that the cost of refurbishment would be similar to the cost of redevelopment and is currently looking at all options including: simple refurbishment, improvements, partial redevelopment, infill development or full redevelopment. 

It is hoped that a decision will be made by summer 2022.

Residents have since been consulted to see which option they would prefer and a resident working group met for the first time last month. 

Several face-to-face events took place with around 55 residents attending and 41 of them filling out feedback forms.

Maintenance issues were highlighted as a key concern by residents with many saying repairs had not taken place. Access to bins, parking and general upkeep were also highlighted as concerns.

Some residents were cynical about the consultation but a report said that in-person engagement was ‘well-received’.

Around 61 per cent of residents said that kitchens and bathrooms were ‘outdated’ and 59 per cent raised issues such as damp, mould, insect infestations and mushrooms growing inside their homes. 

Some said windows would not open and close properly and said ‘structural issues’ made them feel ‘unsafe in their own homes’.

Around 41 per cent raised concerns over levels of anti-social behaviour, with 60 per cent saying they felt safe living there, and 16 per cent saying they did not.

Following the consultation, a need for ‘urgent safety works’ was identified and these have been promised while the consultation is ongoing.

At a meeting of Adur and Worthing Councils’ joint strategic committee on Thursday (October 7), a further £454,100 was approved for the improvement project.

Councillors previously agreed to allocate £140,000 to the initial phases.

Catherine Arnold (Lab, St Mary’s) had concerns, saying: “That is an awful lot of money and we do have concerns about the costs of some of these consultants.”

She asked where the money would come from and ‘if everything had been done’ to source consultants from within the council in order to save money. 

Council officers said the funds would come from the new development and acquisition reserve, therefore not taking away from other resources. The reserve currently has £740,000 available.

They assured committee members that external consultants were needed due to a high workload faced by in-house experts – and particularly the planning department which has recently received ‘the highest number of planning applications in years’.

Adur council leader Neil Parkin (Con, St Nicolas) said the figures were ‘looked at under a magnifying glass’.

He said: “A lot of us would have thought ‘oh god that’s a lot of money’. I still think it’s a lot of money but it’s a justified lot of money.”

It is currently expected that the council will fund the full cost of refurbishment or redevelopment but officers said there may be scope to receive funding from the Homes England Affordable Grant. 

This could also see additional homes added to the estate – though residents said they would not be happy to lose any green space if this did happen.