Two planning applications have now been submitted for the major refurbishment of 77 homes on Sandpits Avenue (21/05057/FUL; 21/05056/FUL). They give more details of the scheme, which will be the largest investment in social housing in Ludlow for many years.

Residents whose houses are being refurbished will be moved into another house in Sandpits. Their homes will have major refurbishment, new floors, new heating, new electrics, new bathrooms and kitchens, new plastering and new roofs where needed. The residents will move back to their original homes again at the end of the work.

The housing will be more energy efficient but no renewable energy sources are proposed.

Properties to be refurbished

The estate at Sandpits Avenue and Sandpits Close was constructed in the 1930’s. Of the original 103 properties, Connexus Group retain 77, the others having been sold though the Right to Buy and other disposals.

Connexus has looked at a comprehensive redevelopment of the estate with a view to achieving a higher density of housing. The conclusion is that is not practical, mostly due to the fragmented ownership (see map above). That means that the estate must be renewed house by house. The work is currently being tendered. Refurbishment is expected continue throughout 2022 and into 2023. Connexus says:

The estate remains popular and is easy to let, albeit the properties require significant investment to bring them up to current standards, particularly as far as energy is concerned.

There have been various problems over the years with the properties, mostly to do with damp and poor insulation levels. That has required replacement of the ground flooring of some properties.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) for the houses are generally in the low C’s or D’s with a small number registered as E and F. Connexus wants to achieve a minimum of EPC C for all its properties by 2030 with the capacity to improve to EPC B through further improvement, such as a form of renewable technology. But there are no plans for renewables in the current refurbishment.

Connexus says it has investigated renewable technology but concluded that external wall insulation, insulated floors, underfloor heating, new gas A-rated boilers, loft insulation and double glazed windows is sufficient for the moment. The floor insulation and the underfloor heating could support an air source heat pump later.

The walls will have external cladding 100mm to 150mm thick which will be rendered. Increase the level of roof insulation by 300mm. The roof covering will be replaced with similar grey or red tiles with improved ventilation. The chimneys will be removed as they are no longer required and will leak heat from the properties (a cold bridge). Existing windows and doors are to be replaced with new high performing windows and doors to improve thermal performance and raise u-values. There will be deep flow gutters and rainwater goods to cater for increased levels of rainfall.

The proposals will not radically change the external appearance of the houses. The walls will  have brickwork at ground floor level and render above.

“The reasoning behind this is that at present, Sandpits is a mixture of rented and private housing. We wish to avoid the Connexus properties presenting an appearance which instantly advertises them as standing out from their neighbours.”

Many back gardens have extensive planting and some contain aviaries. These will remain untouched and arrangements will be made for residents to gain access during the refurbishment work.

Sandpits is home to a significant colony of Swifts. Discussions are underway between the Ludlow Swift Group and Connexus to ensure that there is minimum disruption to the colony and that sufficient swift boxes are supplied once the houses have been refurbished.

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