Joint effort rated a top bit of kit

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A COMPUTER design tool created for North Tyneside Council to use in assessing building designs has been given the thumbs-up by the Technology Strategy Board.

The tool was designed by students at Northumbria University to help council staff weigh up prospective bids to build and renovate homes for the elderly.

It has now been awarded a rating of outstanding, the highest possible, by the board.

The tool is the result of the council joining forces with the university’s school of the built and natural environment to come up with a high-tech way of weighing up six design bids for 26 new and refurbished sheltered housing projects in the borough.

It enables users to evaluate proposed building designs and how well they meet key criteria, including having sufficient communal spaces and ensuring that elderly residents would not have to walk too far to reach necessary locations within buildings.

It has been used in 156 assessments since its completion, helping whittle down the shortlist of bidders to two as the procurement process reaches its final stages.

Ten new sheltered housing complexes will be built and 16 existing ones refurbished, providing more than 900 homes for the elderly.

The council’s cabinet member for housing, Paul Mason, of Monkseaton North, said: “This is about enhancing the services we provide to older people in North Tyneside.

“This year we will start transforming our sheltered accommodation schemes.

“Our team’s work with Northumbria University will help ensure the design of the schemes enables older residents to live with their own homes for as long and as comfortably as possible.”