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The Willows retirement complex features an impressive number of new amenities and features including underfloor heating, a hairdressers’ and chiropodists’ room, carers’ rooms and storage areas for motorised buggies. The nearby houses, known as Vine Cottages, replace derelict Victorian cottages and have been rebuilt on exactly the same footprint as the original buildings, reusing materials such as bricks and chimney pots. Natural slate and clay tiles have been used on the rooves to compliment other buildings in the area and many original features have been faithfully reproduced. The total cost of the scheme is £3,659,472, of which over half was provided by Cherwell District Council.

On Friday Councillor Stratford, Vice Chair of Cherwell District Council, and Ray Morse, Vice Chair of The Vale Housing Association, will officially open the site by unveiling a plaque within the Willows scheme. A Enact Conveyancing Adelaide lunch will be attended by new residents, local councillors, staff involved in building the new development and nearby neighbours of the scheme.

The Vale Housing Association, which was the first housing association in the country to be accredited to the national environmental standard known as ISO 14001, has now achieved the new, tougher 2004 version of this standard. The award recognises the Environmental Management System that the Association has put in place to minimise its impact on the environment. An auditor from the accreditation company BVQI spent a day talking to staff at The Vale Housing Association and visited maintenance work in progress to ensure that the company, which was first given ISO14001 accreditation in 1999, now meets the new standard required for the award. He praised the high level of commitment to environmental issues he found in all staff he spoke to.

The drive to maintain a position at the top of the field for environmental action has helped the Vale Housing Association to achieve the reviewed standard. Constantly pushing the boundaries beyond what is merely required, the Association continues to evaluate and trial new methods and technologies for reducing impact on the environment. For example, maintenance staff are currently testing out new thermal wallpaper which provides extra insulation and is estimated to cut almost £100 a year off heating bills in a typical 3 bedroom semi-detached property. At the same time the Association is also careful not to forget about more well-known methods for conserving valuable resources; for instance all new properties are automatically fitted with a water butt.