In October 2000, the London Borough of Brent transferred all its sheltered housing stock to Willow, newly established as a Registered Social Landlord. This included 14 schemes, many in a very poor state and certainly not appropriate for the needs and expectations of older people in the 21st century.
Willow, in full consultation with the transferring tenants and staff, the local authority and the Housing Corporation, agreed a major, £20m redevelopment, remodelling and refubishment programme. Many of the transferring sheltered schemes provided only bedsit accommodation with shared facilities and one of the aims was to ensure all tenants had their own, self contained facilities, as well as level access, achieved with the installation of lifts wherever possible.
The programme took five years to complete, and came in on time, and to budget. It provided 196 refurbished and remodelled sheltered flats, including creating self contained accommodation from units with shared bathrooms, plus 116 flats in three new build schemes, designed to extra care standards. Willow was one of the first organisations to work within a partnering agreement, including architects and building contractors, all of whom put the existing tenants needs at the forefront during the design and works programme.
Willow's innovative approach to design resulted in one of our new build schemes winning the Evening Standard 'Best New Development by a Housing Association' award in 2003.
Recent, current and future developments
Willow has continued to build on its achievements and reputation for excellence as a developer of specialist housing for older, and vulnerable, people.
We have built three extra care schemes in Brent, providing 136 high quality homes with care and support services for frail, elderly people.
During 2012, we will be completing a specialist extra care scheme in Brent for people with dementia. In addition, we have secured Homes and Communities Agency grant funding to develop a fifth extra care scheme in Brent. Although currently at concept stage, the plan will be to complete this scheme in 2014/15.