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Multi Million Pound Investment in Cwmbach Aberdare

A run-down street in Cwmbach near Aberdare is set to be transformed into one of the most modern and energy-efficient housing developments in the Cynon Valley as part of a multi-million pound neighbourhood renewal project.
The former council homes at Bryn Awelon were built in the post-war years using a prefabricated construction technique. By the mid-1980s it was recognised that many houses in the UK built using this method had developed structural problems. Over the past decade, more than half the houses at Bryn Awelon have had to be demolished and several of the remainder are currently boarded up.

Cwmbach is a popular and desirable location and RCT Homes’ – which owns and manages more than 10,000 homes in Rhondda Cynon Taff – wanted to redevelop Bryn Awelon.

However, few developers are willing to build in the depressed Welsh valleys housing market without subsidy and Cwmbach is not currently an area that would be prioritised for grant funding.

The problem has been resolved by RCT Homes’ own development company, Porthcwlis.

Working with Cardiff-based regeneration specialists Bellerophon, Porthcwlis has developed an innovative funding model that has packaged up Bryn Awelon with development sites in Cardiff where rents are considerably higher. Taken together they have been able to attract funding from M&G, one of the UK’s biggest investment institutions.

The resulting £3.4 million development at Bryn Awelon will provide 37 new houses and flats as part of a three-site, £19 million project backed by M&G. The building of new social housing usually requires subsidies of up to 58 per cent of the construction costs. The new homes at Bryn Awelon will be built without grant funding.

“Establishing a pioneering funding and delivery model has taken two years of hard work from Porthcwlis and Bellerophon,” said Andrew Lycett, RCT Homes Chief Executive. “By using this funding model, we have been able to achieve our original aspirations to build affordable homes and regenerate communities without public subsidy. Not only that, other landowners and social landlords can now replicate the legal, funding and ownership structures to deliver affordable homes more quickly and help regenerate other communities.

“It could provide an important new option to help councils and housing associations to meet the Welsh Government’s targets for the building of new social housing and affordable homes.”

The new development at Bryn Awelon was launched by the leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, Cllr. Andrew Morgan, and Cllr Keiron Montague, Cabinet Member for Service Delivery, Communities and Housing.

The new homes at Bryn Awelon will be built to very high energy-efficiency standards, which will keep running costs to a minimum. A pilot scheme of four houses was built in the street in 2013 to test the new technology and they have proved themselves to be very economical homes to heat.

Work on the new homes at Bryn Awelon is expected to start in March. At the same time, the fifteen existing homes in the street will be refurbished in a further £375,000 investment by RCT Homes.

Cllr Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, launched the scheme and said: “As the local Housing Authority, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council drives the strategy in terms of ensuring homes that meet the highest-possible standard are available for residents in the areas where they are needed the most.

“This innovative scheme enables existing tenants in Cwmbach to have improved homes and an improved neighbourhood, while the area as a whole benefits from development, regeneration and the offer of much-needed affordable homes.”

Cllr Keiron Montague added: “We are proud Rhondda Cynon Taf will be one of the first places in Wales to benefit from this new funding model and continue to be very supportive of innovative initiatives to support the development of affordable housing in RCT.”