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Berecroft History


History

With Harlow Council under great financial strain the future of Berecroft seemed very grim.  Waiting for major repairs to be done on an ad hoc basis was certainly not the way forward.  Several other estates within Harlow were also in the same bad state of repair.  Some money was found but it was less than half of the £7.5 million that was needed to bring Berecroft back up to the standard to which rent payers should expect.

Harlow District Council was asked by the Berecroft Residents Association to search for other feasible options.  Within a few weeks the option of joining the Anglia Housing Group of companies was tabled.  In order that each tenant was able to make an informed decision Dome Consultants, an impartial company of advisers were employed.  By way of open forum meetings, information leaflets and fliers every tenant was given all the facts they needed in order to make that decision.

The tenancy agreement was one of the most important issues and all tenants that wished to be were encouraged to take part in the drawing up of this agreement.  The other major issue was of course rent.  An agreement was reached and a guarantee that the annual rent rise would be inflation plus 1% for the first five years, and we would hope that this would stay the same indefinitely.

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The ballot than took place.

Of 207 tenants, 174 (84.1%) voted in the ballot.
The result was:

139 (79.9%) voted in favour of transferring
the homes to Berecroft Community housing

35 (20.1%) voted against.

 

The transfer date was set for January 1998.

A shadow board of directors consisting of 5 places for Independents, 5 Harlow ward Councillors and most important of all 5 tenant members was set up.  Berecroft is an estate of mixed tenure so not wanting to split the estate into tenants and home owners the tenant shadow board members asked that one place on the board be offered to a person other than a tenant, thus giving everyone on the estate a voice. It was agreed by all to have 4 tenant members and one home owner. To this day this remains the same. The transfer took place and the 174 tenanted homes on Berecroft became a non-profit making housing company and Berecroft Community Housing Ltd., came into being, under the umbrella of Anglia Housing Association.

A process of selecting a Construction company began and a post for a Resident Liaison Officer was advertised and was offered to and taken up by a tenant of Berecroft, who, together with a number of residents helped put together a Residents Charter.  This Charter consisted of various limitations set down for the builders to adhere to.  A good example would be that no work should take place at weekends and before 8.00am or after 6.00pm during the week, unless there were special circumstances.  The contents of the Charter proved to be invaluable.   

In March 1998 the major refurbishment of Berecroft was set in motion. 

The refurbishment program consisted of:

  • Cement panels being removed and replaced with an insulated Render system.
  • Complete rewiring.
  • New double-glazed windows with a choice of French or Sliding doors to the back.
  • New kitchens with a choice of 3 colours for the units, tiles and flooring.
  • New bathrooms with a choice of 3 colours for the suite, tiles and flooring.
  • Pitched roofs.
  • Internal decoration.
  • New front doors, a choice of 3 styles, all with brass door furnishings. Doorbell and external light included.
  • New external pathways and street lighting.
  • New central heating systems.

 

Before and After Click on photo to enlarge in a new window.
Time Line

It really was impossible to imagine what the residents of Berecroft were about to experience.  The workmen moved in and the scaffolding started to go up.
On a twelve week rolling basis each terrace started to take on the appearance of a building site.  The different sounds of electricians, plumbers, carpenters, roofers etc: combined with the usual chatter of people trying to get on with their lives very quickly became the norm.  There was never a dull moment.
With most of your belongings packed away, getting the children to school, going to work, cooking, washing, keeping the dust down and the dog from escaping while doing your best to allow the workmen the freedom of your home became quite a feat of self discipline for everyone.  Most of whom should be congratulated for coping so well.  Then just as the internal works were finishing in your terrace the external works started and a different sort of nightmare began.

Keeping positive about the end result, not minding making tea and understanding that things do go wrong at times are probably the three most important pieces of advice that could be passed on to others about to go through the same experience.  It is hard to believe but some people actually enjoyed the whole thing, and many have said since that they miss the bustle of it all, even some that did not cope so well at the time.
Then as if it never happened Berecroft was once again quiet and back to normal apart from the fact that the whole estate had completely changed from a grey flat roofed housing area to a bright new uplifted estate with homes which all had proper peaked roofs and walkways that were lit up and the perception of danger had completely disappeared.  It has become pleasurable to walk through the estate on new paving and drive on new roads with the feeling that it had all been worthwhile. 

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Click on photo’s to enlarge them. They will open in a new window

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.  Look out below!
Dave roof walking
  How much better does that look  

A year after the refurbishment had been completed the Housing Management
contract was due to be renewed.  The tenders went out and the decision to  look to Blackwater  Housing for the Management of the tenanted properties  was taken.  This to date has been very successful, the relet time for a  home is just two weeks and the percentage of non payment of rent has  fallen considerably.  The Residents Association have a monthly meeting with Officers from Blackwater Housing Management where we walk the estate, point out and discuss any external repairs or any internal problems that residents have brought to our attention.  These are acted upon quickly and all involved agree that these meeting are very worth while.  We have a team of Customer Care Officers who can be contacted on a freephone number, and three days a week  a designated Housing Officer is based in an office within our community bungalow.

Our relationship with Harlow District Council and the Officers of the Council, which was reasonable, has greatly improved over the last few years.  They have been more than helpful on many occasions and we now all work together as a team for the same ends.

The name of the company that was formed at the time of transfer, Berecroft Community Housing, changed to Ryeland Community Housing this year, 2003, the company wants to grow by taking on new properties in different areas of Harlow and so the name change came about in order that neither Berecroft nor any future areas taken on by the company would not lose their own special identities. 

Together with South Anglia Housing and Harlow District Council the Berecroft Residents Association, now know as Berecroft Community Association still strive to make Berecroft an even better place to live.

Each year we hold a Funday on Rye Hill Park for all to enjoy,  the funds raised together with some community development money given by the company are put back into Berecroft in many different ways, from entertainment for the children, subsidised family outings, paint etc to make the garage areas better,  to prizes for competitions set in our Newsletter.

Take a moment to look at the Time Line which gives details of all past fund raising and projects, that have been achieved by your Residents Association, and if you would like to be up to date on any current projects do please look at the projects page.

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