Elfreda House: topping out ceremony marks major milestone in development

PUBLISHED: 8 August 2023

Colchester City Council has celebrated the topping out of the rebuilt Elfreda House, a sheltered housing development that is nearing completion in the Shrub End area of the city. The topping out ceremony marks a major milestone in the development, as it signifies that the structural work on the new building is now complete.

Key stakeholders from Colchester City Council, Colchester Borough Homes and constructors Kier attended the ceremony on 24 July.

Guests looked on as an ancient 14th-century topping-out tradition was carried out at the ceremony. This involved holding aloft a yew tree branch on the roof – a symbol of good luck for the building – along with the pouring of a local brewed beer and speeches.

Elfreda House is a three-storey building that will provide 36 new homes for older residents, as part of the council’s drive to ensure its sheltered housing stock is fit for the future. The new build will offer residents their own self-contained bathrooms, kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms, as well as their own outside space. There will also be shared communal spaces where residents can socialise, and lifts to the upper floors.

The current residents of Elfreda House have already been rehoused while work on the new building progressed, and they will be given the first opportunity to move back into the new facility once it opens in January 2024.

Cllr Paul Smith, Colchester City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Housing, said: “This is a major milestone in the development of this important project, and it is a testament to the hard work of everyone involved.

“Elfreda House will be a state-of-the-art sheltered housing development that will provide much-needed accommodation for our older residents.

“The reconstruction of Elfreda House demonstrates the council's commitment to caring for our elderly citizens and is another significant step forward in our efforts to provide more safe and secure accommodation to the highest environmental standards – as we aim to do in all our future building projects. We have a strong desire to construct more social housing and take pride in assisting our most vulnerable residents.

“I am grateful to everyone who has worked on this project, and I look forward to seeing Elfreda House completed in the coming months.”

The project supports the council’s ambitious aims of delivering 350 new affordable homes for local people by 2024.

Pictured above, left to right: Chris Bateman (Kier project manager); Rod Richardson (Colchester Borough Homes), Terri Hamilton (Colchester City Council), Cllr Paul Smith; Cllr Julie Young; Cllr Kayleigh Rippingale; Mark Tomlinson (Kier senior business development manager).

Page last reviewed: 8 August 2023


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