Freebridge has spent �58m on improving tenants’ homes in King’s Lynn and West Norfolk

Five years after it took over 7,000 council properties in West Norfolk, Freebridge Community Housing has almost finished bringing them all up to modern standards.

Five years after it took over 7,000 council properties in West Norfolk, Freebridge Community Housing has almost finished bringing them all up to modern standards.

Now a new business plan unveiled to staff and tenants lists improvements in customer service among its top priorities, as the social landlord sets out its blueprint for further regeneration in the teeth of a recession.

Freebridge has spent �58m on improvements to properties in West Norfolk since it took over the borough council's housing stock, in April 2006.

Chief executive Tony Hall said its original 'promises plan' would be completed by early 2012.


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That means 95pc of homes will meet modern standards after improvements to almost 4,000 properties.

'A good example is the Fairstead Estate,' said Mr Hall.

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'We think by Christmas time we'll have completed the whole estate, plus we've been able to build a new development on the pub site.'

Local authorities weren't allowed to borrow money to pay for work needed to meet new decent home standards.

Housing associations could re-mortgage stock to fund new bathrooms, kitchens and central heating, which is why the transfer took place.

Mr Hall said improved insulation in tenants' homes had made a difference to many families' standard of living.

'Some are almost halving their heating bills,' he said.

'Affordability is not just about rents, but making these properties energy efficient.

'We're testing out different things to make sure people who don't have significant disposable incomes get to use every pound they get for the most benefit of their families.'

As well as improved insulation to 2,701 homes, work carried out across West Norfolk includes 3,689 new kitchens, 2,722 new bathrooms, central heating for 3,387 homes, 5,851 new doors and 5,055 new windows.

Freebridge is about to begin work on a development of 19 new homes on the former Kia Garage site, on Wisbech Road in South Lynn.

Work is already under way on a development of 12 flats and houses on the site of the former Fairstead pub, on Fernlea Road. Two new properties are also being built on Lady Jane Grey Road.

Freebridge has bought a former barn and plot of land next to its Juniper House offices, between Austin Street and Chapel Lane.

Mr Hall said it planned to turn the barn into a resource centre and meeting place for local groups.

The plot of land, overlooking St Nicholas Chapel, near the centre of King's Lynn, may be turned into town houses and these sold, with proceeeds being ploughed into building more affordable homes elsewhere.

Managers are awaiting more guidance from central government over changes proposed to social housing, including fixed-length tenancies to ensure that properties go to those who need them.

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