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Wilmcote House

Wilmcote House

In 2018, LSE Housing and Communities completed the final stage of a research project examining the social impact of deep retrofit works carried out at Wilmcote House in Portsmouth between 2015 and 2018.

Wilmcote House is a large concrete panel building made up of three linked, high rise 11 storey blocks, containing 107 units. The building is located in an area with high levels of deprivation and historically had problems with mould, damp, and fuel poverty. The work was carried out with residents in-situ.  The retrofit was entirely funded by Portsmouth City Council and a European Union Grant. They justified the cost of retrofit at £150,000 per flat as being far cheaper and less disruptive then demolition and rebuild.

The building works aimed to:

  1. Tackle fuel poverty;

  2. Improve health;

  3. Futureproof Wilmcote House for another 30 years;

  4. Save money on day to day repairs and maintenance;

  5. Ensure that Wilmcote House remains a useable asset and ensure that the properties continue to be let;

  6. Reduce rent arrears by helping residents save money on bills.

LSE Housing carried out interviews with 15 residents before, during and after the works, to capture what impact the works have had on the resident’s lives at each stage.

The key conclusions are:

  • Most residents strongly support Portsmouth City Council’s overall approach to the estate renewal and are glad it has been done. Residents like the location of Wilmcote House, near to schools, shops and the station. They also like Portsmouth.

  • Overall flats are warmer, more comfortable and more attractive. Drafts and mould are no longer a problem. Most residents use radiators less and when they do the heat is retained in flats.

  • The building process was difficult and had a number of delays. The council believes it was a mistake to hand over the task of resident liaison to the contractor during the works. 

  • The timescale could have been compressed if the builders had reliably turned up to appointments with residents and had done what they promised on time.

  • The council’s Resident Liaison Worker provided a vital line of communication with residents. She was strongly praised by residents. Portsmouth City Council maintains a good reputation with tenants for being responsive, but they did not have enough control over the building contractor.

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Site updated 06 July 2020