Dee Park: modern, beautiful and fantastic

Catalyst reading  (7 of 55)In 2010 we embarked on an eight-year project to transform a 1960s estate in Reading into a modern neighbourhood. We caught up with long-term resident Ian Wright to find out what he thinks about his home on the new Dee Park.

Home sweet home

With a contemporary living space, a spacious balcony and lots of natural light coming into the apartment it’s no wonder Ian has nothing but praise for his new home. “It’s fantastic. Everything is new, modern and beautiful,” he says.

According to Ian the best feature about the one-bedroom apartment is most definitely the balcony. Ian says: “When the sun is shining, I sit on the balcony which overlooks the greenery and I feel like I’m on holiday.”

A ‘warm’ feeling

Another thing that has impressed Ian about the new home is how remarkably warm it is. He only pays £6 per week for his heating and hot water.

“The building has top-of-the-range insulation and big glass windows. It’s like a greenhouse here in the summer,” says Ian. The apartment is so warm that some of Ian’s neighbours haven’t even put their heating on this year.

House proud

When Ian first moved to Dee Park, his children didn’t particularly enjoy visiting him as the apartment was very cold, and had concrete walls and floors. He was also too embarrassed to bring anyone home. But now he can’t keep his family and friends away.

Ian said: “My daughter visits all the time with her baby, and my family say how lucky I am. No one can believe that this is a social housing home.”

He’s also pleased that some of his old neighbours have moved into his block or now live close by. “We’re lucky here as most of us know each other. A group of them come around to my place every other afternoon for a drink and chat,” says Ian.

Making the perfect choice

Whilst building the new Dee Park residents were consulted on the paint, flooring and types of cupboards that were fitted into their homes. Ian said: “It’s great that people were able to choose. We could put our own touch on the apartments and it felt as though they were really ours.”

Reading Borough Council also gave residents £500 to refurbish their homes, which Ian used to buy new carpets and curtains. The council also gave people a further £4,700 compensation which enabled Ian to buy new furniture, a TV and car. So Ian feels as though he had a ‘really nice start’ to his life on the new Dee Park.

Supporting people

So far Ian is enjoying being a Catalyst resident. He’s had a few repair issues, but they’ve been fixed quickly and he has no qualms.

Ian said: “From the day I moved in everything was very well coordinated between Catalyst and the council – it helps that they share a local office. When the office is closed, I call and sometimes get through to the Catalyst London office. They’re always very helpful and make sure Colin [Ian’s neighbourhood manager] calls me back the next day.”

Visit our regeneration section for details on how we’re transforming neighbourhoods.