Housing Minister launches biggest ever refurbishment of Byker Wall

The Minister for Housing, Kris Hopkins MP officially launched a £9.5 million refurbishment project of Newcastle’s iconic Byker Wall and link blocks this week.

The Minister cut the ribbon to mark the start of work to the Grade II* listed building on the Byker Wall Estate, which is being undertaken by the Byker Community Trust (BCT).

The BCT owns and manages over 1,800 homes on the Byker estate after residents voted in favour of transfer in 2012. The current government wrote off the historic debt associated with the Estate which enabled BCT to secure the funding for the transfer. Since then, the BCT has worked quickly to deliver stock transfer promises and its five year planned capital investment programme of £26 million is well underway, which is making a real difference to people’s lives.

Keepmoat will be completing a full external fabric overhaul of the Byker Wall which will include a new roof, windows and doors to 400 flats and maisonettes. Improvements will also be made to communal stairwells and entrances, and a complete repaint in line with the original colour scheme.

In addition to the refurbishment works, Openview have also been appointed to install a new digital aerial system, including broadband to each property, as well as upgrading the door entry and CCTV systems that are delivered by a concierge service.

Residents have been consulted on the refurbishment works that will be undertaken to their homes and those living in Byker Crescent will be the first to receive the improvements.

Jill Haley, Chief Executive of the BCT, said:

“Today marks a hugely significant milestone for the BCT and I would like to thank the Housing Minister for helping us to launch the Byker Wall refurbishment which will make a real difference to people living within the Wall.

“The refurbishment of the Wall was one of our key promises to the people of Byker when we transferred the estate to BCT from Newcastle City Council and it is the most significant investment made to the Byker Wall in its history.

“By working with our partners, Newcastle City Council, English Heritage, Your Homes Newcastle, Keepmoat and Openview, we are helping to restore the Byker Wall’s listed features in line with Ralph Erskine’s original plans and we will also include new additional services which will meet the lifestyle expectations of our customers.

“The improvements will be phased and are expected to take two years to complete, during which time, we are committed to creating ‘life change’ opportunities for local people. This will include opportunities for employment and training that will provide new skills, apprenticeships and jobs for people living in Byker, thus also helping to improve economic and social conditions within the estate”.

Minister for Housing, Kris Hopkins, MP said:

“It’s a great a pleasure to be able to cut the ribbon and launch the £9.5 million refurbishment of the iconic Byker Wall.

“The ground-breaking design and Grade II* listed status of Byker Wall have ensured its place in the area’s history. By restoring the Wall to its former glory the Byker Community Trust are not just giving it a place in the community’s future but also making a real difference to the lives of the people who call the Byker Wall their home.”

David Ward, Keepmoat’s North Regional Managing Director, said:

“We are pleased to partner with the BCT to help transform such an important landmark for the city. Not only will residents see the improvements made to restore the world-famous structure but we are also committed to providing employment and training opportunities for local people.”