Engie - Sahara Fold

One transformation of a sheltered housing scheme manager’s apartment has resulted in 11 further projects for ENGIE and Anchor Hanover.

The challenge

Anchor Hanover is one of the UK’s largest provider of specialist housing care for older people in England. With space at a premium, Anchor had identified that now its housing scheme managers live in alternative accommodation, it could convert their former on-site, two-floor apartments into two new spaces for residents, enabling more people in need of supported living to benefit from Anchor’s care. ENGIE is overseeing the project nationwide and asked Evolution to tackle its conversion at Sahara Fold.

The work

One into two: The floors of the scheme manager’s property were connected by a stairway which needed removing in its entirety before the process of creating two distinct apartments could begin in earnest. 

Utility liaison: Splitting the property meant splitting the utilities too. This was an eight week project, whilst the utility company worked to a 12 week lead time for delivering separate supplies to each unit. To overcome this issue, we carried out lots of preparatory work before a tool was ever lifted on site. By front-loading the utility work, we were able to remove the bottlenecks and hold-ups that can derail project deadlines. By the time we started work, the utility upgrade was all but complete.

Resident relations: Anchor’s developments provide support for over 55s, some of whom may otherwise not be able to live alone. It was vital that we protected residents’ safety and minimised risk, so we isolated our work teams within the flats by creating separate entry and egress points.

Each day we would liaise with the scheme manager, letting her know the plans for the day and the levels of noise residents could expect. She was then able to relay this to residents who could plan their day accordingly.

Even working in isolation, residents and work crews would come into contact with each other – most notably in the communal kitchen area which residents and contractors used for preparing drinks and snacks.

With a team well used to working responsibly, however, these points of contact proved a great opportunity to engage residents, chatting about the work and keeping them informed of progress. We kept the kitchen clean and tidy too, of course.


The national programme of conversions has repeatedly faced deadline challenges as utility work has invariably delayed progress. Sahara Fold, however, become the first of ENGIE/Anchor’s transformations to run entirely to deadline, with the keys handed over on the last day of the eight week build period. As a result, Evolution has been awarded a further 11 conversion projects.

Giving back

Evolution has a long track record of finding ways to give back to the communities that benefit from our work. Sahara Fold was no different. A year earlier, some plastic chairs and table had to be removed due to an incident at another scheme. As a safety risk, all similar seating was removed, leaving residents with nowhere to sit outdoors.

As a ‘thank you’ for their support during the project, we donated two wooden benches to the residents, so they can once more enjoy some fresh air. “I really can’t thank the Evolution team enough, not just for the work they did, but for the care they showed in making our residents feel involved in the project. We were genuinely sad to see them go, but we know that – via the new units and the lovely benches they donated - our residents will be talking about them for a long time to come.”

The new tenants have stated that “the flats are lovely and really feel like home”.

Lynne Walsh, Housing Scheme Manager, Sahara Fold "The nature of our sites – in terms of utility liaison and the additional work in managing the needs of residents – can make it extremely challenging for less experienced contractors to complete our projects to deadline. Evolution’s track record in this field was why we asked them to get involved, and I have been extremely impressed by their ability to complete the process on time, on spec and in budget.”

Chloe Reed, Contracts Manager, ENGIE

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