Two stalled Corby social housing schemes need an extra £855,000 amid spiraling post-Covid build costs

One local mum says the Cannock Road project would be a 'dream come true' for her family

By Kate Cronin
Saturday, 25th September 2021, 7:16 am
Top: The former gym in Cannock Road that is set to be converted to five homes. Bottom: The proposal for the site in Cheltenham Road.

Councillors will be asked to provide extra funds to pay for two stalled Corby housing schemes after Covid pushed building costs through the roof.

Two projects at the former gym in Cannock Road and at a former railway sidings on Oakley Vale had been due for completion this year.

But after the Cannock Road builder went bust and Great Crested Newts were found on the Oakley Vale site, both were shut down and have remained so for months.

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Now North Northamptonshire Council members will be asked to vote to provide an extra £855,000 to get both projects finished.

The former Den's Gym in Cannock Road was set to be converted to five new affordable homes and Cafos Ltd started work on site last December. But in May the firm went into liquidation and work was halted.

Now Corby-based Jeakins Weir, who already have a framework agreement to complete public sector works in Northamptonshire, are set to take over the contract which they say they can begin in December with completion in Autumn 2022.

But the work will cost an extra £189,107, rising from £847,000 to £1,036,107. The increase in spending has been recommended for approval by officers and members of the council's executive committee are set to discuss it at their meeting on Thursday (September 30).

The new ground-floor apartments will be self-contained and two of them will be wheelchair-accessible, proving a 'dream come true' for one Corby family who spoke to our reporters.

The local family, whose names we have changed to protect their privacy, have been waiting for several years to be rehomed from their bungalow in Corby Old Village

Mum Sarah told the Northants Telegraph that her son Sean, 14, has duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic degenerative condition that has left him needing to use a powered wheelchair.

They have been struggling in their bungalow which is not suitable for Sean's needs.

"He was diagnosed when he was four and three or four years ago he had three falls in a year," said Sarah.

When Sean came out of hospital the family had to spend six months in a hotel in Corby before doors at their bungalow could be widened.

"We decided he would be better in a power wheelchair.

"It was a hard decision but we knew he was safe in the chair.

"But the bungalow's not adaptable. All the walls are scratched and the doors and he's growing bigger.

"We were so pleased when they told us about these places in Cannock Road but they should have been ready by now. It's like a dream for us. At the moment it seems like it's never going to happen.

"Children like Sean are not expected to live into their teens. We don't know what's going to happen from one year to the next so we just want to get in there as soon as we can so we're all more comfortable."

Meanwhile, eighteen new energy-efficient homes had been due to be built for ex-servicemen in Cheltenham Road, on Corby's Oakley Vale estate, last year. Work on site had started and at the end of October 2020 but just three days later, a neighbour found a protected Great Crested Newt in her back garden and work was halted.

Natural England issued a new licence in June this year and said work can re-start next month. But building costs have risen drastically since the site was closed up. The quoted cost has now risen by £666,380, up from £3,195,000 to £3,861,380.

Councillors are due to debate whether to spend the extra money at their full council meeting on Wednesday (September 29) at 7pm.

A report to members says: "If the Council were to terminate the contract to seek a potentially lower price, the builder could sue the Council for breach of contract as it was told to halt work through no fault of its own.

"Even if we were to go to tender again, the cost of the scheme is likely to be more now due to higher build costs because of the impact of Covid on the construction sector.

"The Cheltenham Road scheme is an important part of the council’s housing development programme. All 18 new council homes are designed to be energy efficient and will help to address housing need."

Both meetings are open to members of the public.