Nearly 90 wheelchair-accessible homes have been delivered in the Taunton, Wellington and West Somerset area in the past three years – with more in the pipeline.
In North Taunton, five wheelchair-adapted homes are being provided and nearing completion as part of the project to regenerate defective Woolaway properties.
The homes benefit from energy efficiency measures such as solar panels, triple glazed windows and air source heat pumps, which will allow tenants to live in highly insulated buildings, have lower energy bills and produce fewer carbon emissions.
Somerset Council is building on the success of the former Somerset West and Taunton Council that set up a specialist housing group with the aims of understanding the demand for accessible housing and providing more new-build homes adapted for people with a wide range of needs.
Since 2020, despite various challenges including rising build costs, the Affordable Housing Team has been able to work with a range of registered providers to produce 86 new wheelchair accessible homes with 11 being fully wheelchair adapted. And a further 25 specialist homes are due to be delivered.
At Bagley Road, Wellington, the Affordable Housing Team worked closely with Occupational Therapists and housing provider Sovereign to deliver five three-bedroom houses that are fully adapted. The need for family wheelchair adapted homes was highlighted through the specialist housing group and, three years on, homes that make a big difference for people have been completed and are now occupied.
Staff involved in the initiative are fully hands-on, making sure that individual clients’ needs are carefully considered at the design stage and supporting people until they make the move to their new home.
This has led to strong partnership working between developers, landlords and Somerset Independence Plus, who have provided grants to add further adaptations as needed, and to offer Help to Move Grants to assist people into their adapted homes as smoothly as possible.
Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts, Lead Member for Communities, Housing and Culture, said:
Accessible homes are vital to the mix of affordable and social housing available in Somerset.
I know how much it means to someone having a home that fits their particular needs. A great deal of hard work has gone into provision, working with partners and the individuals and I would like to thank our Affordable Housing Team.
Accessible accommodation is truly transformative; to hear one tenant express that their ‘life begins again today’ on first seeing their new home just brings home the impact of the right home for the right individual.