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Plans for Polgrean to go ahead

Plans to build 60 affordable homes in St Blazey have been approved by Cornwall Council.

Polgrean Place is an ambitious £12 million affordable housing scheme from Ocean Housing, providing 51 units for rent, nine for shared ownership, two commercial units, and a community space. It will replace existing flats, Cornish units, and six commercial buildings.

In November, Ocean Housing is to stage an event for previous residents and the wider community, to say farewell to the estate, and share memories of living there.

Mark Gardner, chief executive of Ocean Housing Group, said: “Ocean Housing is committed to investing in its existing homes and communities. It is time for the area to be rejuvenated, yet we should remember that many families have fond memories of growing up and living in the area, so we would like to invite them to share their memories, and commemorate an end of an era.”

There will be a memory board for photographs to be shared at the event on 22 November 2019, which Ocean Housing would like to use to decorate hoardings around the site during its redevelopment.

“We look forward to being able to start the development and provide quality affordable homes to people in and around St Blazey.” – Mark Gardner, Chief Executive of Ocean Housing Group.

Demolition is scheduled to start in January 2020, and it is anticipated the whole redevelopment will take around two and a half years to complete. Gilbert & Goode, Ocean’s sister company, will be undertaking the build which is to be of traditional design, including pitched roofs, and an external finish using a combination of stone and render.

The scheme will be carried out across several phases and comprises a selection of one, two, and three-bedroomed affordable flats and houses. It will incorporate parking, gardens and landscaping, with a small community hub to be used by local businesses and community groups.

Mark Gardner continued: “Polgrean Place is Ocean Housing’s largest scheme to date and we would like to thank the local councillors, which have been very supportive of this project.

“Our thanks also extend to the local community which has positively supported the re-development and provided constructive feedback during the consultation period. We look forward to being able to start the development and provide quality affordable homes to people in and around St Blazey.”

The first family homes are expected to be completed and ready for occupation by spring 2021.

New welfare advisers to help tenants navigate Universal Credit

We have appointed two new welfare advisers to assist tenants with claiming Universal Credit, managing monthly income, getting back to work and applying for grants.

Louise Brown has formerly worked with Caradon, Winchester and Test Valley councils as a housing benefits adviser and housing officer, and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role.

Simon Griffiths joins the Welfare Advisory team from our property services. He has also worked for the Department of Work and Pensions as an adviser.

As well as offering advice to tenants, Simon and Louise will work closely with voluntary agencies and statutory organisations to help tenants find appropriate support.

Their appointments come at a time where tenants face the transition to Universal Credit. The new benefit reform represents a big change for those receiving benefits, and combines jobseekers’ allowance, child tax credit, housing benefit, income support, working tax credit, and employment and support allowance into one monthly payment.

Mark Gardner, group chief executive for Ocean Group, predicts that changes to the welfare system may affect housing affordability.

He said: “Generally, it is people who are already near financial crisis that have experienced issues with the transition to Universal Credit. Delays in the initial payment, a cap on benefits, and stricter rules for getting back to work mean that some families could find themselves worse off under Universal Credit.”

A report from the Affordable Housing Commission, (AHC), highlighted that housing affordability becomes critical where housing costs represent more than 40 percent of household income. The tipping point tends to be highest amongst first time buyers, families with dependent children, and those in private rented accommodation.

Mark Gardner said: “Cornwall has a high proportion of workers on minimum wage and zero-hours contracts due to seasonal work. Unexpected bills, reduction in income and changes to personal circumstances can all push tenants towards, or beyond, the 40 percent tipping point.”

Ocean Housing is working in partnership with the local Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Citizens Advice, credit unions and support organisations such as the local food bank, to help tenants manage debt and get finances back on track.

Gina Cutler, head of neighbourhood services at Ocean Housing, said: “People can fall on hard times for any number of reasons. By working as a collaborative team, we help tenants cut through the red tape and alleviate financial stress so that tenants can reach the end of the month with greater peace of mind.”

For those finding it difficult to make ends meet, Ocean Housing has put together a quick checklist:

  • Plan ahead financially to create a cushion for unexpected costs.
  • Find out whether you qualify for benefits.
  • Avoid financial sanctions by actively seeking employment.
  • Shop around for the best deals with utility companies.
  • Talk to creditors and support organisations if you are experiencing financial difficulties.
  • Credit unions may provide a more affordable debt management plan to start tackling debt.

For those looking for help with Universal Credit claims, we recommend contacting Citizens Advice. They have launched a Help to Claim service, providing support in the early stages of a Universal Credit claim, including guidance on the verification process which currently is holding up many Universal Credit claims.

A day in the life of a Neighbourhood Services Officer

Being a Neighbourhood Services Officer (NSO) is a busy job.

But it’s also incredibly rewarding, as our very own Susie explains.

Susie has worked for Ocean for four years, and is currently managing properties in Newquay and St Columb Minor as a NSO.

At Ocean, we currently have six NSOs in total, taking care of over 4,200 properties across Cornwall. On average, an officer manages between 700-1000 properties. The team also assist the management of around 700 shared ownership and leaseholder properties.

“No one day is ever the same in this role, which makes it really interesting,” says Susie. “On a typical day I start by checking my emails and ensuring there have been no emergency housing issues overnight, such as fire/flood or a criminal offence involving a tenant or property.”

After that, Susie then heads off to her patch to carry out visits. These can range from:

  • Meeting a new tenant who has recently moved in to their property
  • Boundary and parking issues
  • Inspecting the condition of a garden or property
  • Reports of anti-social behaviour
  • Welfare visits
  • Estate walkabouts
  • Safeguarding – protecting our tenants from possible abuse, harm or neglect.

“I also attend multi agency meetings with the police, social services and other organisations,” continues Susie.

“This is for specific cases where the experience of many teams are necessary involving the care of children, vulnerable adults and serious levels of crime.”

She added: “In amongst the various appointments of the day, I try and fit in a quick lunch break and type up any notes or referrals that need to be made.

“Obviously, my mobile is on should anyone from the office need to get hold of me, the world of housing never stops!”

At the end of the day, Susie types up her many notes. She also logs any referrals that need to be made.

“As busy and challenging as this job is, it can also be incredibly rewarding,” she said.

“Especially when you see the difference you can make to a person or family’s life, no matter how small this may be.

She added: “The best thing about my job is when a tenant picks up the phone or sends a card to say thank you for my help or support.

“I’m lucky to say that I am part of a resilient team who work well together and provide support both emotionally and practically when needed.”

Being a Neighbourhood Services Officer is an important role. Is there anything else that you want to know about their responsibilities?

Or, do you fancy joining the team? We currently have a very exciting role – Neighbourhood Services Manager – advertised.

If you’re looking for a new challenge in your Housing Management career, we would love to hear from you!

More details here.

Meet Clive – a true Ocean community champion

In every community there is often an unsung hero. Somebody who goes the extra mile, purely because of their love of where they live and their neighbours.

This summer, we were incredibly impressed by one of our own residents – a true community champion. Clive, who lives in St Austell, can only be described as Chapel Fields’ own community hero.

A keen gardener, Clive has been a tenant at Ocean for many years.

Recently he contacted Arthur Robertson, who heads up the grounds maintenance service. Clive sought permission to bring the communal area, and beds, back to life with a sparkle of colour.

“I had no hesitation in saying yes,” said an impressed Arthur. “It is great to have a working partnership with tenants on our estates.”

So, with contributions and help from his neighbours, Clive soon transformed a corner of Chapel Fields into what he calls ‘The Lost Gardens of Chapel Fields’.

Community champion Clive told us: “It is surprising what a community can do when they all pull together. I’m delighted to see the results of all our hard work.”

‘Community champion’

Bird feeders, colourful flowers and even a bug hotel make for a wonderful view for those who live nearby.

Pat, another resident, is one of many who has been delighted with the difference. Due to limited mobility she is unable to help out, but she provides much-welcomed tea and cake for the workers to enjoy.

She added: “It’s been a blessing to have such a lovely outlook from my ground floor window.”

Clive is also finding time to help neighbours with their own individual gardens. Arthur has even recruited him as one of our grounds maintenance monitors, to let us know if we are providing a good job.

Would you like to be a monitor and give us feedback on our grounds maintenance service? If so, visit Tenant Monitors for more details. You can also contact our Tenant Involvement Team on 01726 874450.

We would love to hear similar stories of residents like Clive, who also go above and beyond to bring their community together. Let us know!

Happy Shared Ownership Week 2019!

Shared Ownership Week 2019 is now here and the Ocean team have been busy to make sure we mark it in style!

To better explain Shared Ownership and its many benefits, we will be sharing a series of short videos throughout the week – which runs from Thursday September 19 to Wednesday September 25.

This form of house purchase is becoming increasingly popular, and indeed Ocean Housing is offering many Shared Ownership options in Cornwall.

Our week’s coverage kicks off with a quick introduction from Nicola Mitchell, our sales coordinator, and Scott Burrows, our home ownership advisor.

They will run through the week ahead and explain how you can get involved. Above all, you can interact with our coverage on social media and follow our hashtag #SOOcean (Shared Ownership Ocean).

On Friday we will introduce you to Louise Pyle, our head of commissioning, who will explain Ocean’s personal shared ownership goals and achievements.

 

Over the weekend our first taste of Shared Ownership Myth Busting will see Sarah Pechkaytis (sales administrator) and Leanne McIntyre (home ownership administrator) discuss the facts and dispel the fiction behind Shared Ownership.

We will also post a quick interview with Bianca, one of our happy Shared Ownership buyers, who will describe how the scheme really helped her family get on the property ladder and give them greater stability.

On Monday we will welcome you to have a look inside some of our Shared Ownership properties, before returning to bust more myths on Tuesday. Finally, on Wednesday, we will hand you back to Scott and Nicola who will wrap up the week!

What is Shared Ownership?

This is exactly why we’re marking this week, to raise awareness of the benefits of Shared Ownership. Shared Ownership is essentially where you part-buy and part-rent your home.

With Ocean, you can buy between 40% – 75% of your home and pay rent at an affordable level for the portion that you don’t own. The rent will always be set at an affordable level, so you’ll never be priced out of your own home.

Shared Ownership also provides local homes for local people. This means that if you’re priced out of the area you currently live in and want to stay – thanks to local connection rules – these affordable homes are set aside for people like you. So, you can remain in the area you grew up in or stay close to work and loved ones.

Another key feature is that you can personalise your own home. You can really make it your own and a home to be proud of. Feel free to add your own wallpaper, colours and any other furnishings!

What can you expect from Ocean’s Shared Ownership service?

“As a sales team we are very approachable and incredibly friendly,” says Nicola. “We are very much open to tailoring our service to suit you. We are with you every step of the way and will happily answer any question you have, big or small.

“Quality is definitely key. We ensure value for money and the best quality – building homes and communities for the long term.”

She added: “At Ocean, we set out to make your buying experience as seamless as possible. This includes tailoring all communications for you.

“We get a real buzz from seeing the process through from start to finish. So, it is especially rewarding to hand you the keys for your new home. We are essentially silent partners in this, you are the homeowner and securing your financial future.”

Get involved!

To find out more about the scheme you can take a look at our dedicated webpage on our site. Here we have outlined exactly what you can expect from Ocean, current opportunities and the answers to common queries.

Through the #SOOcean hashtag we will be posting regular updates on social media this week. We would love to see as many comments, questions and general interaction as possible.

Our video content will be primarily uploaded on social media, but will also appear in this article.

So, Happy Shared Ownership Week 2019! We hope the following videos and information will be really helpful!

Affordable homes for local people in Praze an Beeble

Are you local to the Crowan Parish and interested in finding out more about new affordable homes being built in the area?

We are holding a drop-in event for local residents from the parish near Camborne this Thursday (September 19) from 2pm – 6pm. At the event, we hope to speak to as many people as possible who are keen to find out more about how they can access new affordable rental housing being built in the area.

Ocean Housing is currently building 16 affordable rented properties on Fore Street in Praze an Beeble; comprising eight two-bedroomed and four three-bedroomed houses, and four one-bedroomed flats.

Taking place at the Praze Institute on Fore Street in Praze an Beeble, the free-to-attend event will have representatives from Cornwall Homechoice and Ocean Housing on hand to discuss the process of bidding for the new rental properties. Plans for the scheme will also be displayed.

“We aim to ensure no local people miss out on this exciting opportunity to live within an area in which they have a strong affinity.”

Tim Boston, lettings and lifeline manager at Ocean Housing, said: “We are keen to ensure these properties go to local people with a strong connection to the Crowan parish.

“The homes are soon to be advertised on Cornwall Homechoice, and this open event aims to ensure potential applicants have a live and up-to-date application ready for when the properties become available for bidding. Cornwall Homechoice will be attending to offer advice and guidance on this.

“We aim to raise awareness of the timescales and availability, to ensure no local people miss out on this exciting opportunity to live within an area in which they have a strong affinity.”

For more information about renting or buying an affordable home with Ocean Housing, visit the Your Home section on our website.

Find out more about affordable Mevagissey homes for local people

The Ocean team will be in Mevagissey this month to talk about local shared ownership and affordable rent opportunities.

Have you ever wondered if you might qualify for affordable rented housing? Or have you considered whether shared ownership might be right for you?

If so – and you come from Mevagissey – this event could be perfect for you. Our affordable housing team will be hosting the drop-in event to explain how local residents can find out more about new affordable housing planned for the town.

Ocean Housing has previously developed two schemes in Mevagissey. Now a planning application for a third has just been submitted. Comprising of 26 new homes, the plans detail 18 affordable rent and eight shared ownership properties.

“The average house price in Mevagissey is more than £275,000*, pricing many locals out of the area.”

“We are keen that all sales and rental lettings go to local people from Mevagissey, who have a strong connection with the parish,” said Louise Pyle, head of commissioning at Ocean Housing.

“The average house price in the village is more than £275,000*, pricing many locals out of the area.

“The aim of this event is to raise awareness that local people may qualify for an affordable rented home, through the housing register or for a shared ownership home, even if they think they may not.”

The event will take place on Monday September 16, between 3pm – 7pm, at the Jubilee Hall on Chapel Street, Mevagissey (PL26 6SS).

Ocean Housing has previously developed two schemes in Mevagissey

Ocean Housing has previously developed two successful schemes in Mevagissey

This free-to-attend event requires no booking, you can simply drop-in when it most suits you. Those in attendance will also have free entry to a prize draw. The draw will see someone win a £50 shopping voucher.

We will have a number of specialists on hand to explain how shared ownership and affordable rented housing schemes work. The qualifying criteria to apply will also be outlined.

Further information about renting or buying an affordable home with Ocean Housing can be found throughout our website.

*Source: Rightmove

Ocean takes the disruption out of getting a new kitchen or bathroom

For all of us, the thought of having a new kitchen or bathroom is exciting. However, not having access to the rooms we use every day can be quite an upheaval…

It can be very daunting, especially for elderly residents. In some cases, our residents have declined to have any works done – in order to avoid the disruption.

That’s why, at Ocean, we want to re-assure our residents that we are here to make any work as easy as possible. Our tradesmen will work around you, so as not to disrupt your daily routine.

Carol from St Austell can vouch for that, having just had a new kitchen fitted.  She had previously declined the works, but this year our property supervisor Mark convinced her to agree to a kitchen refurbishment.

“I’m absolutely delighted with the kitchen and wish I’d had it done before now,” said Carol.

“I couldn’t have asked for more from Ocean”

“Steve and Louis were the tradesmen fitting the kitchen and were able to move appliances and ensure that water and cooking facilities were available at the end of each day.

“I couldn’t have asked for anymore from Ocean, they made it so easy and I just needed to empty my cupboards and clear the worktops.”

At Ocean, we replace kitchens & bathrooms on a continuous cycle. This year alone we are replacing 129 kitchens and 101 bathrooms with an investment of just under £650,000.

Carol from St Austell is delighted with her new kitchen – she wishes she’d done it before!

As tenants you have a real say with the works. You can choose the style of the cupboards, drawers, handles and worktops in their kitchens. You can also choose the colour of floor coverings in both kitchens and bathrooms.

There’s always going to be some disruption when we carry out these works, however this is kept to a minimum and we always explain what is involved. We aim to fully complete a kitchen within three to four days and a bathroom in three days.

If you would like to find out when your kitchen or bathroom is due for renewal please email help@oceanhousing.com

Live in the Hayle area? We want to hear from you!

Ocean Housing is organising a Drop In Event in Hayle. It’s so that we can hear your views on our housing management service.

The event will be held at Hayle Rugby Club, opposite the West Cornwall Shopping Park, on Friday August 30.

We are keen to meet as many of you there as possible, and answer any questions that you may have.

Don’t worry, there’s no need to book an appointment. Simply ‘drop in’ at any time between 10.30am – 2.30pm.

There will be Ocean goodies for every household who attends. Meanwhile, refreshments will be available. Entertainment has also been planned for the young ones!

A FREE ENTRY prize draw will also take place, with the lucky winner able to win a £50 shopping voucher.

To find out more about what Ocean is doing in Your Community, stay tuned to our News and Social Media updates.