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78 NEW HOMES IN BARNE BARTON
PCH have completed the purchase of 78 homes in Barne Barton from Sovereign Housing Association this week.
This means PCH has taken ownership of 18 two bed flats, 43 two-bed houses and 17 three-bed houses in Kelly Close, Berthon Road and Savage Road to add to our existing homes in Plymouth.
Nick Jackson, Director of Business Services and Development, said:
“We are looking forward to welcoming those living in Barne Barton to PCH and we are wasting no time in visiting our new tenants. We want to make a good first impression and by doing face-to-face homes visits within the first few weeks, we are showing people we are a proactive, caring, local landlord who looks out for the safety and wellbeing of our residents.”
Before the sale was agreed, residents living in the properties were provided with information to explain the reasons why Sovereign was considering the sale before a six-week consultation took place.
During the consultation PCH and Sovereign arranged a joint drop-in session for residents to enable those with questions to ask them faceto-face and meet with representatives of both housing associations.
Mr Jackson continues: “As a sector, we are committed to improving the lives of our residents by providing quality housing and excellent services. Sometimes that means thinking differently about how we work and this transfer of homes in Barne Barton is testament to that commitment - as two Housing Associations work together with residents, for the benefit of residents.
“From a PCH perspective, this is a fantastic opportunity to provide an unrivalled level of service to more residents in Plymouth and increase the number of homes we own. Whilst we are expanding beyond the city boundaries into surrounding areas in the South West, we also want to continue to increase the number of homes we own on our doorstep because we are an organisation committed to Plymouth and its people. We’re looking forward to showing our new Barne Barton residents the benefits of having a high performing, local landlord that is committed to tenant involvement, locally delivered services and investing in Plymouth as a city and in the wider travel to work area.”
Helen Hann, Regional Director of Housing for Sovereign, said: “We were pleased to be able to work with PCH – with additional support from the specialist Housing Consultancy team at Faithorn Farrell Timms LLP - to complete the transfer smoothly. We wish all the residents the very best for the future.”
The addition of 78 homes to PCH’s existing housing stock brings the total number of owned properties to 14,360 in Plymouth and the wider travel to work area.
PCH’s ambition is to grow by building and buying homes in Plymouth and the surrounding areas to ensure that more social and affordable homes are available for future generations in the region.
Where there’s a wilt, there’s a way
PCH’S plan to save trees from disease
Before the coronavirus pandemic struck, you may remember hearing about a disease that infects trees called ash dieback.
While our attention was focused on preventing the spread of Covid-19, another virus was attacking ash trees across the country.
Ash dieback is a fungus that originated overseas.
Despite warnings, the virus managed to reach the UK through imported timber since the early 2000’s.
Sadly, the disease was already widespread in Devon trees by last spring.
Many woodlands will be damaged by the arrival of the unwelcome virus. Depending on how many ash trees are in a forest, will determine how severe the impact will be on a number of beauty spots, forests and nature reserves.
Scientists estimate that around 70 - 80% of the country’s ash trees will be killed by the virus. The species makes up for a substantial proportion of our entire tree coverage across the country. Some Ash trees can live for up to 500 years and all trees provide an essential habitat for wildlife.
Many landowners have simply cut trees down once they show symptoms. After a tree becomes infected, it can increase the risk of branches falling and injuring people, so chopping the trees down is often the first resort.
But PCH won’t let trees on its land go down without a fight. There are around 150 Ash trees under the care of PCH. Our environment teams are working to explore all options before reaching for the chainsaw.
As a qualified arboriculturist, PCH’S Joe Berryman has knowledge about the fungus and can spot signs of infection. He believes there is hope to save some of the infected trees. He explained: “Scientists are confident that some trees will have genetic immunity.
Such immunity has already been discovered within the UK’s Ash population, and there is confidence that these trees can be propagated and planted as resistant specimens. They are working hard to find those immune trees and see how they become resistant to the virus so we can learn more.”
PCH Ranger Mark Fuller has seen the damage the disease can do first-hand. He said: “We took around six trees down in Wyoming Close recently. But luckily, we turned one tree on its side and made it into a garden bench for people to come and enjoy.
Mark explained that the symptoms of ash dieback were very distinctive. He said: “When the trees are in leaf in the summer, you can see that the tops are thinning out.
To compensate, the trees grow straight-up vertically to try and get more sunlight. This can make the branches very weak and likely to snap.”
During the summer months, PCH staff will be monitoring the leaves of our ash trees to check for the symptoms and progression of the disease.
“There is a risk of branches falling”, added Joe Berryman. “Ash trees have ‘brittle timber characteristics’, so they are very prone to branches collapsing and injuring people. We will preserve trees where possible, we can manage the risk while still retaining the many benefits ash trees provide with 955 species associated with ash, of which 45 have been found ‘only’ to exist on this species of tree.”
As with many things in nature, even the death of trees provides a resource for other creatures.
Joe explained: “Our trees are scattered throughout the city and we’re not felling most of them at this stage, we’re surveying them when they come into leaf in the summer, we monitor them for symptoms and keep track of the progression of the disease.”
There are buds of hope for some of the ash trees on PCH land, “some of our trees”, said Joe “are showing resistance.”
Additionally, PCH has joined Plymouth’s Tree Management Plan, a city-wide partnership, which aims to help trees in urban areas become resilient to the challenges of climate change and disease.
HOW PCH PREPARED FOR STORMY WEATHER!
All hands were on deck in February as PCH braced itself for a series of storms that battered the UK.
Severe weather warnings from the Met Office meant that staff had to act fast and take drastic action to prepare for dangerous gale force winds.
Two storms hit the UK in quick succession, Storm Dudley, followed by Storm Eunice.
Roof tiles were blown off at Keat Street in Devonport, and many properties saw fences blown over or damaged. As the city prepared for even more wild weather. Our contact centre was extremely busy as residents reported many cases of storm damage.
Over that February weekend, phone lines in the PCH contact centre received 2,196 phone calls. According to those manning the phones, the majority of calls were reports of storm damage.
Extra hands were drafted in as call operators, Mark Boyd and Laura Vince volunteered for overtime.
Staff working over the weekend had to prioritise emergency calls over less urgent repairs. On one day alone, 70 calls for emergencies came in and had to be prioritised to keep residents safe.
Ben Rose, Contact Centre Manager said: “All our teams did an outstanding job both in the days leading up to the storms and throughout them to help protect residents, properties, and buildings across Plymouth.
“The efforts from the team were incredible, even stepping-in on the weekend to speak with our residents, taking well over 2,000 inbound calls during some of the worst storm conditions we’ve seen in many years.
Thanks to a lot of dedication, hard work and care, they were able to keep our residents safe, protect properties and potentially save lives.”
He added: “I could not be prouder to be part of the contact centre PCH team, watching the focus, care and dedication shown to support the people of Plymouth.”
After the high winds subsided, much of the damage became clear. However, not all the storm damage was immediately obvious. PCH’s tree specialist, Joe Berryman, had to inspect some trees to check for branches that could have posed a danger. Damaged branches could pose a future risk, especially if more bad weather were to be on the horizon. A branch could easily snap and fall to the ground if not identified and dealt with.
Joe explained: “With some large and old trees, it’s recommended they are inspected following a storm, to check for any signs of new structural risk features.
“I was out surveying a small, wooded patch recently, which took quite a beating from the storms. The trees that withstood storm Eunice needed to be checked for signs that indicate they are now a safety concern, or will become one in the near future.”
Ian Frazer, from the neighbourhood management team was thrilled with the efforts made by staff. He said: “I am always impressed and proud how all of the PCH teams, both office based and, on the frontline, come together and provide excellent services at a time of crisis.
“During the storms everyone was calm and professional and there was a willingness to work additional hours to help our residents. I would also like to thank our customers for their patience and understanding not only during the storms but also in relation to the timescales to complete permanent repairs.”
Scientists predict that extreme weather events such as those seen in February could become more frequent due to climate change. With this in mind, it’s important to talk to us and let us know if your property may have been damage.