Halton Housing Trust announces £40m investment

Halton Housing Trust has announced it will invest £40m over the next five years improving neighbourhoods in Runcorn and Widnes.

The trust's Beyond The Garden Gate programme will see money spent on projects across 14 identified neighbourhoods and residents will have the opportunity to get involved and decide what improvements they believe are needed in the community.

Nick Atkin, chief executive of Halton Housing Trust, said: "Our approach is to build and invest in the communities across Halton and this programme is one of the key ways in which we will make this happen.

"We have already spent £100m improving our customers' homes over the past five years. However this next phase of investment will produce benefits to a much wider range of people living in Runcorn and Widnes."

The concept was piloted in West Bank where existing community facilities were improved to help support local people to deliver activities in their communities, as well as various works to St Mary's Church.

The trust added that a number of environmental improvement projects have also taken place with initiatives, such as 'adopt a plot' getting off the ground.

The trust said funds could be spent on anything from community clean ups of green areas, improvements to existing community facilities or boundary and fencing upgrades.

Halton Housing Trust said the project will be individual and specific to each area, improvements and spend will not be determined until the team is in the area and talking to residents.

Kelly McKeown, neighbourhood regeneration officer with Halton Housing Trust, said: "This is a really exciting project as we are asking residents to get involved to determine how their local area looks and feels.

"Although during these difficult times a number of organisations are reducing the amount of money they are able to invest in these communities, we are doing something different which offers a chance for everyone to get involved. The feedback so far has been fantastic."

The trust also confirmed that Apollo Property Services Group, G&J Seddon, Herbert T Forrest and the trust's own construction services team were selected as the contractors to carry out the work.

As part of the work being undertaken the trust will be working closely with the contractors to deliver identified projects for reinvesting back into the local community. As well as cash, this could also see them donating community hours to improve the environmental look and feel of an area.

The trust said the contractors are also keen to employ local people, provide apprenticeship places and liaise with Riverside College to provide workplace training opportunities.

Since transfer five years ago, the trust has spent £100m bringing its 6,150 homes in Runcorn and Widnes up to the government's Decent Homes standard, a project that was completed 14 months ahead of schedule.

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