Couple gets freedom back thanks to council housing scheme

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photo of bungalow

A couple whose lives have been drastically changed by a cancer diagnosis now have their freedom back thanks to a council housing programme.

Derek Hall and Joanne Marsden Hall left private rented accommodation as a result of Derek’s brain cancer diagnosis three years ago. 

The illness meant that Derek had to move his whole life downstairs and now spends most of his time in a wheelchair.

They found a Wigan Council rented housing development online and decided to put their name down for one of the bungalows.

Now, after three years of feeling isolated, Derek is part of a community again and lives only one mile away from Wigan and Leigh Hospice where he spends time with people in similar situations.

He said: “When we lived in Astley, my life was spent in the living room. I couldn’t get upstairs so my medical bed and a commode were brought downstairs.

“Things I took for granted before I can now enjoy because being in the bungalow means I can be more independent.

Everything here is futureproofed with people with extra needs in mind. I don’t have to worry about stairs, we have a wet room instead of a bath and all of the doorways are wide enough for my wheelchair. I know it would have taken us much longer to find a suitable home if we had continued to rent privately.

“For the first time in a while, we’re looking forward to Christmas and enjoying each other’s company. It’s not about the presents and the money for us, we’re happy and I’ve got my freedom back, that’s all that matters.”

The Park Road development in Hindley has been delivered as part of Wigan Council’s direct delivery programme. The scheme consists of 60 houses and bungalows, which are being rented through the local authority.

The development includes 32 two bedroom houses, 16 three bedroom houses, 4 four bed houses and 8 two bed bungalows, which were all completed in September.

Councillor Terry Halliwell, cabinet member for housing and welfare at the council said: “Through The Deal we are committed to building a high standard of accommodation that is well designed, attractive, and affordable for residents.

“It’s great that we can achieve this, while also helping people like Derek remain independent and connected to communities.”

National planning policy requires local authorities to demonstrate a 5 year supply of housing to meet local demand. Currently, Wigan Council can demonstrate more than 6 years.

Coun Halliwell continued: “Although we’re delivering house building at a pace that meets our housing requirement, this pace needs to be maintained to ensure our borough continues to thrive.

“We will continue to identify brownfield sites, stalled sites and key town centre sites for development in order to achieve this.”

Wigan Council is committed to delivering high-quality, affordable homes for residents and has recently completed another scheme in Pemberton.

The development on Poplar Avenue consists of 30 affordable rent new build homes and was delivered in partnership with housing group, Great Places.

For more information about the council housing stock, please visit www.wigan.gov.uk/housing.