North East Connected

Iconic Byker building awarded regeneration accolade

One of Byker’s most iconic buildings, Tom Collins House has won the ‘Preservation and Rejuvenation’ category at this year’s Constructing Excellence in the North East (CENE) awards.

The 12-storey building, which is owned and managed by Byker Community Trust (BCT) housing association has benefitted from a £1.2m external and communal refurbishment.

It is understood that the sheltered housing scheme, comprising 39 self-contained apartments and communal areas, was one of the first high-rise buildings in the North East region to benefit from the full installation of a new sprinkler system in response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017.

The works also included external improvements to replace the aluminium cladding on the full south elevation as well as addressing health and safety measures, fire safety improvements and upgrading of communal landlord services.

The improvements have transformed the building for modern living and improved the quality of life for residents including accessibility throughout the building such as new entrance ramps, creating specialist storage rooms for scooters and improving the external environment and communal garden improvements.

The annual CENE awards celebrate everything the North East built environment has to be proud of. There are fourteen award categories demonstrating how professionals use their skills to develop, regenerate and conserve the built environment and showcase the most inspirational initiatives and developments covering innovation, integration & collaborative working, value, digital construction and offsite. Regional winners will then go onto the national final in Autumn 2019.

The awards ceremony was held at The Grand Gosforth Park Hotel last night (Friday, 14 June) and commenting on the award success was Jill Haley, Chief Executive of BCT. She said: “It is a real honour to receive this award in recognition of the large-scale refurbishment of this iconic building. Our aim is to work with tenants to improve their lives through any investment which we make. Since BCT was established in July 2012, we have invested £33m into the Estate and have committed a further £14m of improvements until 2025. The works that have been undertaken to Tom Collins House have modernised this iconic building and hugely benefitted all 45 residents living within the scheme.

“Improving a Grade II* Listed building not only brings its own challenges, but successfully completing a refurbishment project of this scale while the building is fully occupied requires meticulous planning and cooperation.

“Residents were fully consulted throughout the whole project from start to finish and gave feedback on the artwork and design themes which have been applied to the communal areas. Involving residents throughout the project resulted in 98% customer satisfaction. The new communal lounge and kitchen provide a welcoming area for older residents to meet and encourages social interaction and reduces isolation. Residents are now holding regular activities during evenings and at luncheon clubs within the communal areas, which is helping to improve the quality of life in the community.”

The project was commended and officially opened by Sir Keir Starmer MP, Shadow Secretary of State during his visit to Byker last November when the project completed.

BCT worked in partnership with residents and a number of partners on the successful delivery of the project including Esh Property Services, Newcastle City Council, Historic England, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and Storm Tempest.

Tom Collins House was built between 1975 and 1978 to a masterplan designed by the architect Ralph Erskine. The works that have been completed comply with the Byker Heritage Partnership Agreement and Historic England guidelines.

Also shortlisted within the CENE Preservation and Rejuvenation category was Spanish City in Whitley Bay, Middlesbrough Town Hall, The Racquets Court and Church Street and Church Square restoration.

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