33 new homes for Bridgwater

Work starts on new, greener, homes

More than thirty social housing flats will be built on a site in Bridgwater following the sealing of a deal between Sedgemoor District Council and contractors Classic Builders.

The site off Rhode Lane has been handed over to Classic Builders and a ground-breaking ceremony was held to mark work starting in October.

Cllr Alan Bradford, Chairman of Sedgemoor District Council wielded the spade and marked the start of turning a tired and neglected site into much-needed new homes.

In total, 33 new low-environmental impact apartments will be built on the land previously occupied by the semi-derelict Penlea House, a Victorian estate property. Penlea House was built by Sir Francis Hartwell, who lived in Essex and London in the mid-19th century, as his West Country bolt hole. He rarely visited the house. It was built long before Bridgwater’s southern expansion, which started early in the 20th century.

Subsequently, like a lot of large country properties, it fell out of use as an estate house. As the land surrounding it was developed for housing, the building became local authority offices and stores before being converted into six large rental apartments which were run by Sedgemoor District Council. While the flats were spacious, the building itself was in a poor state due to its age and was expensive for tenants to heat and for the authority to maintain.

The previous tenants have all been rehomed and the building is being demolished. A block containing dozens of new energy-efficient apartments distributed over four floors will be built in its place. Elements of the building, including the main porch and coving, will be recycled and incorporated into the grounds and gardens. This is a £5.9m investment supported by Homes England Funding. This development will strive to hit zero carbon targets, providing 33 one and two-bedroom affordable and efficient homes, managed by Homes in Sedgemoor.

The redevelopment of Penlea House in Bridgwater is planned as part of the Council’s own direct delivery of a new generation of modern council homes fulfilling the need for smaller properties. The ten ground-floor units will also accommodate residents with mobility limitations and wheelchair needs, including adaptations such as wet rooms.

New technologies incorporated into the flats will include:

–         Porotherm Block Construction

–         Enhanced insulation and air tightness

–         Enhanced ‘U’ values which mean less energy is required to maintain comfortable conditions inside the building and reduce heat transmission

–         Photovoltaic cells/Solar panels

–         Triple glazing

–         Renewable heating/hot water system to replace gas

–         Mechanical Heat Ventilation Systems

The design and specification have been modified and improved as the authority strives to deliver its climate emergency decarbonisation aspirations and build high-specification, energy-efficient homes. 

Cllr Bradford said:

“The redevelopment of Penlea House has been many years in the making but is an excellent example of how the Council is recycling one of its own tired assets to provide modern fit for the twenty-first century much needed council homes.

“Sadly, and despite the Council spending lots of money maintaining the property the building is now in a physically poor condition and would have required substantial works in the foreseeable future. It has reached the end of its economic and social usefulness.

“These homes will be owned by the Council and managed by Homes in Sedgemoor. When built our new tenants will have a home which properly meets their needs – safe, warm and affordable.”

Peter Hatch CEO of Homes in Sedgemoor added:

“It’s taken a great deal of hard work from colleagues at Sedgemoor District Council and Homes in Sedgemoor and the support of councillors to get this innovative project to this point. Work can now start on the site and we would like to thank all those who have worked so hard to bring it to this stage. We are looking forward to welcoming our new customers to their new homes.”

These new homes are expected to be completed towards the end of 2024.