Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 10.20.30Landmark Tyneside flats built to withstand Hitler’s bombs are to provide improved safety and security for the current generation of occupants thanks to new investment by an affordable housing provider.

The Sir James Knott Memorial Flats in Tynemouth are undergoing a £2m refurbishment programme by Home Group that will see extensive repairs completed at the architecturally significant site.

The one, two and three bedroomed rental properties, constructed in the 1930s, are considered to be the first-ever built with special features to help tenants withstand air raids – essential with the gathering clouds of war in Europe.

Home Group is currently on site undertaking extensive repairs to the 135 flats, which stand on the hill overlooking the River Tyne, and provide secure housing for hundreds of residents, who are mainly pensioners and families on low incomes.

Due to the architectural importance of the site, the organisation has had to adopt a highly sensitive approach to both procurement and on-site delivery to ensure preservation of the buildings’ fabric.

This has already seen thousands of square feet of flat roofing re-surfaced, costing £300,000, followed in April 2015 by repairs to stonework and brickwork.

Further refurbishment during the two year project timeframe will see the installation of hundreds of new windows and doors while scaffolding is onsite.

Harry Drennan, procurement category manager for Home Group, is overseeing the work, coordinating tenders and sub-contractors to ensure disruption to occupants is kept to a minimum.

He said: “We have committed an extensive investment programme that will see significant improvements to a site that is not only architecturally significant but also accommodation to hundreds of people.

“Our initiative will see the properties brought up to the highest quality standards, ensuring customers continue to benefit from accommodation that provides safe, secure and affordable homes for them well into the future.”

Construction work is being undertaken by Bishop Auckland-based main contractor T Manners, while survey work has been completed Nick Rowling of Harrow Consulting Ltd.

Photocaption: Graeme Nelson, Home Group Maintenance Surveyor alongside Gavin Plews, Wayne Harris and Derek Collinson of T Manners.