16a. - Chirton House launch pic 1
Lord Prescott pictured with Jill Haley, Chief Executive of the BCT and new Chirton House resident, Carol Avery

A disused home in the heart of the Grade II* listed Byker Estate in Newcastle upon Tyne has been unveiled as a stunning new apartment complex.

Chirton House, which is owned by the Byker Community Trust (BCT), has been officially opened by Lord John Prescott after undergoing a £1.12m refurbishment.

The new facility boasts 16 one and two bedroom high quality, apartments including two ground floor apartments that have been specifically adapted for wheelchair accessibility.  Each self-contained apartment includes its own kitchen, bathroom and WC and has been designed to promote independent living.  The apartments are available for rent and aimed at people aged 50 and over. They are located in a popular area of the estate overlooking the bowling green with other community facilities for all ages located nearby.

When the BCT was created in 2012 following a successful stock transfer from Newcastle City Council, one of its offer promises to tenants was to refurbish non-residential buildings and find uses for buildings that are no longer needed for their original purpose.  Newcastle City Council transferred the ownership of the former social services care home to the BCT and grant funding of £480,000 was secured from Newcastle City Council to help to convert the building into 16 new luxury apartments.

The refurbishment, which started last summer, was undertaken by Gentoo Construction who also, as part of the contract, safeguarded four existing apprentices and provided employment to two people who had been unemployed for less than six months.  Both recruits came from Byker and one has already moved onto another site with Gentoo.

Jill Haley, Chief Executive of the BCT, said:

“At the time of transfer, we identified a number of empty and underused buildings across the estate, many of which were in need of repair and improvement.  Our pledge was to bring these buildings wherever possible, back into use.

I am delighted that we have been able to refurbish such a fantastic building like Chirton House and bring it back into use by providing high quality and affordable accommodation, which will also help improve the lives of residents.

The design of the new self-contained apartments has been able to preserve the character and appearance of the existing Grade ll* listed building.  We have been working alongside English Heritage and restricted any non-essential changes to the outward appearance of the building, whilst incorporating the Byker design elements that make the properties in our area so unique and instantly recognisable.

This new refurbishment will give the local community a boost and I would like to thank all the partners involved in making this project so successful, and the neighbouring residents for their support during the construction work.”

Lord Prescott pictured outside of newly refurbished Chirton House with Jill Haley, Chief Executive of the BCT and Jim Coulter, Chair of the BCT
Lord Prescott pictured outside of newly refurbished Chirton House with Jill Haley, Chief Executive of the BCT and Jim Coulter, Chair of the BCT

Tom Warburton, Director of Investment and Development at Newcastle City Council said:

“The grant funding for the refurbishment was secured from the council’s Empty Homes Programme, which is designed to support projects exactly like Chirton House. The conversion provides the community with much needed one and two bedroom accommodation, and the wheelchair units provide alternative housing to tenants who may otherwise would have had to move off the estate to meet their particular needs.”

At the official opening, Lord Prescott said:

“I have heard a lot about the Byker community and this is my first opportunity to visit. Byker is going through a considerable transformation under the BCT, and they are leading the way in social housing and community development.  It’s a pleasure to be invited to officially open the newly refurbished Chirton House and I would like to wish residents all the happiness in their new homes.”

The new luxury apartments have been widely advertised and tenants have started to move into their new homes this week.