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Sun Hill Crescent

Considerable progress has been made this week in terms of finalising the scheme. As I indicated last weekend, the main outstanding issue was whether or not to include the Sun Hill Crescent area in the scheme. This had originally been suggested by Openreach given that there were clear synergies with the existing scheme. My main concern was to make sure that the demand was there especially given that there was a perception that internet speeds were higher there than in the existing scheme area and hence less motivation to join the scheme.

Since then, I have had many expressions of interest, especially from the southern end of Sun Hill Crescent. A short survey of the download speeds that residents there are actually getting has indicated that the typical speed is towards the lower end of the range given by the BT database and this makes a big difference. The upgrade issues for a resident in the Sun Hill Crescent area will be the same as for the rest of the scheme area, and the view is thus that we should include the Sun Hill Crescent area in the scheme.

There are also clear advantages in extending the scheme. The scheme will increase in size from 230 properties to an estimated 350 properties. At the same time, I would expect to see a cost increase similar to when the original 113 property scheme was extended to 230 properties. This means that we should be able to get the cost per property down from £1291 to around £1,000 per property.  This is a very viable scheme. It also starts to become high profile - perhaps too big to fail from the point of view of HCC and Openreach.

In order to cover the cost of the scheme, we will need a minimum of 116 properties (33%) to pledge their vouchers. However, Openreach demand an additional 30% to offset the risk of vouchers being cancelled (e.g. due to residents moving house, or just not being bothered to complete the upgrade). The target is thus 150 properties (43%).

In contrast, the original leafleting of Orchard Close got 38 (out of 70) expressions of interest (54%).. We should be able to do better than this with a proper campaign. I would also expect to see a similar interest level in Appledown Close and Sun Hill Crescent. The Linnets Road (south) pledge rate should be even greater, given how bad the internet is in those areas.

The target thus looks to be very achievable.