West Lancashire Council have announced that they will be providing £8m worth of investment to replace windows and improve energy efficiency measures in the Lancashire town of Skelmersdale. The much needed improvements will be part-funded by an 8% rent increase for tenants.
Half of the funds will be used to replace the remainder of the single-glazed windows in the council owned properties with double-glazing. A further £1.5m will be put towards installing central heating in the flats which use storage heaters and putting new boilers into the properties which need them. The funds will also be invested in green energy schemes with the long term aim of making the council one of the best landlords in the country. The council own thousands of properties that are protected by landlord insurance and these improvements are just the start of a much bigger upgrade programme.
Councillor Adrian Owens said: “This amounts to a new era for housing as well as being excellent news for tenants, the wider community and the local economy. The increase in rent, which is a result of a change to the way council housing is funded by central government, is just part of our bold financial approach to make sure that tenants will benefit as much as possible. Looking further ahead we have identified a need for a total of £55m in improvements during the next five years to upgrade homes to the standard that meets tenants’ aspirations.”
The council’s original plan to demolish two-hundred properties in the area has been abandoned due to it being no longer viable. Instead the council is determined to revitalise and enhance the area and they will be putting together a business plan to tackle this. They are also hopeful that any construction scheme will help to create new jobs, including a number of apprenticeships. Residents will be consulted on any new schemes which are aimed at improving houses, gardens and the local environment.