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Port Talbot flats get new lease of life in eco makeover

Pictured: Andrew Carey of Tai Tarian (left) and Dennis Hellyar of DHA Architects. Picture by Nick Treharne
Six blocks of flats nearing the end of their lives have been transformed using innovative retrofit design and building techniques in a £16 million project.
County Flats at Sandfields Port Talbot, owned and managed by Housing Association Tai Tarian, have been given a new lease of life adding 55 new living spaces in an attractive, modern setting.
 The transformation has been possible using an imaginative approach which retains the essential structure of the flats, greatly reducing the environmental impact of the work.
Architect Dennis Hellyar of DHA Architects explained that the project had delivered the maximum benefit for tenants while minimising the carbon footprint of the work.  “The original inner construction has been retained and the exterior refashioned, and substantial new sections added, as well as green living spaces.
“This approach means that the ‘embodied’ carbon of the original building is not duplicated in this process and so the overall effect on the environment is lower than it would have otherwise been.”
Ecological considerations have been paramount, explained Andrew Carey of Tai Tarian. “The flats are superbly insulated using a combination of materials including Welsh sheep’s wool, woodfibre and Mycelium, one of the newest environmental developments made from mushrooms.
“Solar panels have also been installed to power batteries, as well as air source heat pumps, and tenants are finding energy costs are lower as a result.”
Tenants were delighted with their new homes and Tai Tarian was now planning similar improvements to other properties under their ownership at Sandfields.
A key aim of the County Flats scheme was to increase the living spaces and occupancy of the site, and this was done by adding new, taller segments to the existing buildings as well as adding new structures. New modular sections were craned into place adding an extra 55 single-bed flats bringing the total to 127 living spaces.
“There was a lot of unused space in the original development and we have brought this into play in the new scheme, adding accommodation and gardens for the residents to enjoy, as well as parking and better entry and security,” added Mr Hellyar.
Many of the flats enjoy superb views over the Channel and surrounding countryside and are proving a hit with tenants.
The work was funded partly by Welsh Government through its Social Housing Grant and Innovative Housing Programme and the project has been undertaken by local firm Hale Construction.