North Ayrshire Council completes Irvine sheltered housing complex
Vennel Gardens is the first project in the council’s Sheltered Housing Reprovisioning Programme, which aims to improve and modernise existing complexes and bring them up to a standard that is fit for 21st century living.
Following the demolition of the former Kiln Court complex on the site, North Ayrshire Council Housing Services took forward plans to develop facilities that would provide a benchmark for all other sheltered housing within North Ayrshire. This involved the council’s own architects consulting with the University of Stirling’s ‘Dementia Service Design Centre’, who provided guidance about designing the complex in a dementia-friendly manner.
Vennel Gardens incorporates 16 one-bedroom homes and number of communal areas including two resident lounges, a kitchen, dining area, guest bedroom, visiting services room and low maintenance, easily accessible landscaped courtyards.
The £3.3 million project was achieved through funding provided by North Ayrshire Council, supported by the Scottish Government who contributed £736,000.
The council places a strong focus on sustainability, both in terms of reducing living costs for residents and ensuring that their homes meet their long term needs.
Sustainable features include low emission rate boilers, highly efficient double glazing, high levels of thermal and sound insulation, aerated taps, low-flow showers to reduce water consumption, low energy lighting, and recycling bins within each home. In addition, the communal areas are served by underfloor heating, which is powered by an air source heat pump. The development has achieved a ‘B+’ Energy Performance Rating.
Independent living is actively promoted throughout the development, with features such as level access, wet floor shower rooms, pull down and pull out kitchen units, accessible sockets and switches, and the provision for future ceiling hoists to be installed. All homes include an alert system, with emergency pull cords in each room. These features help to ensure that residents can live in a fit-for-purpose housing environment capable of adequately addressing their current and future needs.
Another exciting aspect of the development is the new Hub facility, known as the Vennel Centre. Community service provision is at the heart of the Vennel Centre; enabling health and social care professionals, in partnership with third sector groups, to deliver various services that local people have advised that they need.
Housing Services worked closely with the North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership in the design of the Social Hub. This communal Hub area within the Vennel Gardens is for both residents and older people from the wider community to participate in organised activities such as coffee mornings, lunch clubs and games etc. Visiting services such as hairdressing, foot care, and optometry will also be available. This list is not exhaustive and, over time, the Hub will offer a wide range of services tailored to the needs and preferences of local people.
The project has also been successful in supporting the economic and social regeneration of North Ayrshire. As part of all council new build developments, the building contractor is required to enter into a Targeted Training and Recruitment agreement. Local North Ayrshire apprentices were given the opportunity to work with the contractor, Ashleigh Scotland Ltd., to develop their skills within the construction industry. In total, the Vennel Gardens project enabled work for a total of 10 apprentices in a variety of roles including joinery, brick laying, plumbing and painting.
Council leader Willie Gibson, said: “We are very proud of Vennel Gardens, which really sets the bar for future sheltered housing across North Ayrshire.
“The project provides a great example of council services working together to deliver better outcomes for local people.
“With a steadily ageing population, we acknowledge the importance of ensuring that our housing stock has the capacity to meet current and future needs of older people and our Sheltered Housing Programme will guarantee our complexes achieve the high standards that our residents deserve.”