With 36 happy tenants and a thumbs-up from Kirklees Council work has begun on the next phase of our Poplar housing project in Huddersfield town centre.
As we meet Project Manager Fraser Neasham onsite he’s busy choosing bathroom tiles. “The first thing a customer sees is the decorative features that they’ll be living with. That’s one of the aspects I really like about Yorkshire Housing; we pay attention to detail,” says Fraser.
The Poplar site, at Smithy Lane Huddersfield, currently boasts 36 apartments, completed just two years ago. “When we had the official opening the council were so please they agreed the land for phase two.” Phase two will soon introduce another 15 modern, high-quality apartments to Huddersfield town.
Located minutes from the centre, and on a major bus route, Poplar was earmarked by Kirklees Council as a travel-to-work area. The development team identified an opportunity to help with the council’s plight to increase the quota of high quality but affordable accommodation for people living and working in Huddersfield.
From the 15 flats in phase two, eight will provide much-needed social housing while seven are available under the Affordable Rent scheme. Construction Manager Simon Oak said: “Poplar is helping transform a run down inner-city area into a vibrant development for an eclectic mix of residents that perfectly represents Huddersfield’s diverse of population.”
Pawel Zduniak, who lives and works in the area, is one of the first residents to move into Poplar. He said: “I’m really pleased with where I live. They are high-quality homes in a really good area.”
After opting for soft grey vinyl flooring, designed to reflect light around the room, Fraser disappears through a set of modern patio doors to inspect the apartments at ‘first fix’. Development Officer Laura Peacock said: “The first fix is a crucial stage of the build when the electricals go in. The second stage comes much later, when the plaster is on and the switches are fitted.”
The design of the building has developed from a modern structure with external steelwork stairways to a more traditional stone faced building in keeping with the area. Today Fraser and Laura are pleased to discover the stone has been quarried from Guiseley. “It’s great that it has a local connection,” says Laura. “The open-plan layouts look great. It is a scheme to be proud of.”
Poplar site is rich in history. It was home to Huddersfield’s first council houses, which were built on a chemical works – and before that a Tannery. “It was horrible. The houses were stone-build two-story terrace flats and the ground was contaminated. They hadn’t been tenanted since probably the 1970s, were squatted and fires were regularly started. There was rubbish and rodents everywhere. It was a really grim area,” says Fraser.
Cleaning up the ground and demolishing the old properties was Fraser and his team’s first contribution to the larger regeneration effort going on in this area of Huddersfield. Apprentice Harry Williams, working onsite, grew up nearby. He said: “It used to be an awful area. Now there are newly-opened restaurants and shops across the road and modern student accommodation also being built nearby.”
Four of the properties in phase one were purpose built for disabled residents in Huddersfield. “These flats are slightly bigger and the doorways and windows are wider to allow wheelchair access.”
Fraser is now working on motorising the communal entrance door to allow disabled residents even more independence and mobility. “We’re always working on continuous improvement and tweaking where we can,” says Fraser.
Another addition will be a cycle store for both phase one and two. “Our aim is to create sustainable homes by building a secure place for people to leave bicycles. We’ve also noticed that a number of people use scooters so we’re putting some motorcycle hoops in to chain up their bikes.”
The homes are on track for completion in September. The majority will be available for social tenants and a selection will be available on the Affordable Rent scheme. To find out more about Affordable Rent visit my4walls.co.uk