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Future development benefitting old and young

News : 02 October 2017

Building work is well underway at Wealden District Council’s £10m Retirement Living scheme Grants Hill Court, with local contractors providing the construction skills.


Wealden chairman Councillor Chris Hardy and Cabinet member for Housing Councillor Graham Wells were given a tour of the Uckfield project last week (28 Sept) by Thakeham Client Managing Director Steve Tuhey and site foreman Tim Williamson, who lives in Hailsham.
The Council has been keen to involve local workers wherever possible in the scheme, which will see the accommodation on the former Grants Hill House site increase from 42 to 67 affordable homes. Sussex-based Thakeham Client are employing Uckfield-based GPB Construction to provide the groundwork for the scheme and Eastbourne-based Owen Contractors for the bricklaying and scaffolding.
Councillors Hardy and Wells met up with two of the Owen apprentices, Iain Davidson and Nathan Kitcher who are working on the site.
“It is good to see local firms employing apprentices, and to learn first-hand how these schemes are helping provide training and future employment,” said Councillor Wells. “The investment we are putting into social housing will not only provide high quality affordable accommodation, but help improve the economy and the skill levels of local craftsmen for our communities. This must bode well for the future.”
Both men are aiming for a NVQ Level 3 in construction. Nathan is finishing his training at Sussex Down College, while Iain is receiving his training on site. Both believe the mix of training and experience which apprenticeships offer is the way to improve their future employment prospects. Chairman Chris Hardy was also given an opportunity to try his hand at bricklaying during the visit.
Steve Tuhey, Managing Director, Thakeham Client, said: “We are delighted with progress at Grants Hill House, with works on programme and to budget. We are committed to delivering an excellent scheme for Wealden District Council, the largest scheme undertaken by the Council in recent years. Situated in central Uckfield, the site has several challenges including retention of an existing bowls green. However, work is going so well, that members of the team were invited by the Club, to play bowls last week! We have received very positive feedback and thank our sub-contractors for delivering to our high standards.”
Grants Hill Court has been designed to meet the needs of people in their later years and includes two internal gardens – a cloistered garden and an activities garden - together with outside space for all 67 apartments in the form of large winter gardens or private balconies.
Topping out for the new development will take place next spring and it should be completed at the end of 2018. The contemporary twist on brick finish and tiled pitched roof to the development echoes properties found in the nearby conservation area, fitting in with the local Sussex vernacular style.
Wealden District Council operates its own apprenticeship scheme and is looking for four new applicants to take an Apprenticeship in Business Administration. It provides opportunities to train within a range of council services including Legal, Human Resources, Housing, Digital Services and Finance. The closing date for applications is 25 October. More details on the Wealden website.

Photo shows:
Apprentice Iain Davidson, Council Chairman Chris Hardy, Cllr Graham Wells & Apprentice Nathan Kitcher.