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11 October 2023

Four of Wales’s most unusual and innovative retrofit housing schemes

Four of Wales’s most unusual and innovative retrofit housing schemes

A nightclub, a former Woolworths, and even a pub are being transformed into new homes by innovative Welsh housing associations.

Wales, like the rest of the UK, is currently in the midst of a housing crisis. So, to ensure they continue to fulfil their core purpose of providing affordable homes to the people that need them, housing associations across the country are looking at a wide range of opportunities to build, develop, and supply homes.

This approach has seen the sector finding increasingly creative ways to retrofit and redevelop existing buildings into high quality, safe and affordable housing. Here are just some of the more unusual and interesting retrofit schemes housing associations have been working on.

Image of the Biophilic Swansea development.
How the Biophilic Swansea development will look when completed.

Former Woolworths building

Pobl housing association’s innovative Biophilic Swansea development, which incorporates the former Woolworths retail store building along Oxford Street in Swansea, has been hailed as a UK first.

The 'living building' development, which will be delivered by Hacer Developments and Pobl, will include a new 13-storey tower adjoined to the former store, featuring green walls and green roofs, along with an educational facility, retail, offices, a landscaped courtyard, rooftop solar panels, battery storage and gardens.

There will also be a mix of affordable and shared ownership housing on site, with Pobl managing around 50 affordable apartments.

Alongside this, the sustainable development will feature an urban farm, set over four floors with two rooftop greenhouses - the largest of which will have technology developed by Swansea University to support the growth of 4.5 tonnes of fruits, vegetables, salads and herbs per year

An image of the school retrofit.
Former Llantrisant Welsh school retrofit undertaken by Trivallis.

Former Welsh school

Trivallis has redeveloped a former Welsh school in Llantrisant into 18 affordable new homes.

The Llys y Tri Sant development, has seen the former school building being incorporated into the new homes, with eight one-bedroom flats, six two-bedroom flats, an adapted bungalow and three houses built alongside it.

Funding for the retrofit initiative was provided through Welsh Government’s Social Housing Grant and by Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council.

An image of how the nightclub retrofit will look.
How Linc's retrofit scheme will look when completed.

Former nightclub

Linc Cymru is retrofitting Newport’s former Zanzibar nightclub into 37 affordable apartments.

The housing association received planning consent to transform the popular club into one and two bedroom accommodation for tenants. The accommodation will focus on sustainability, with all homes fitted with solar panels and built using a fabric-first approach.

The building, which was also previously a church, was bought by Linc Cymru in 2020 after it was damaged by a fire in 2018.

An image of the former pub converted into housing by Newydd housing association.
The former S A Brains Pub converted into housing by Newydd housing association.

Former S.A Brains pub

Newydd housing association has taken over 28 homes at the former Brains pub the Seaview Hotel in Barry.

In order to complete this retrofit and transform the former pub into affordable housing, the housing association worked in partnership with Vale of Glamorgan Council and received support from Welsh Government’s Social Housing Grant Programme.

Construction began in 2021, led by Crosshands-based Sterling Construction, and the newly developed accommodation is now welcoming tenants.

Community Housing Cymru represents 34 not-for-profit housing associations in Wales, that provide almost 165,000 homes to 10% of the Welsh population.

Together, our collective vision is to make Wales a country where good housing is a basic right for all.

For media queries please contact Gemma Gwilym on gemma-gwilym@chcymru.org.uk