£15m new homes boost

Coun Gillian Campbell
Coun Gillian Campbell
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A £15M investment in affordable housing is set to transform the lives of Blackpool families.

Over the next three years, 178 new council homes will be created across the resort – aimed at helping pull people out of the poverty trap.

The scheme – set to go before councillors this week for approval – will see 70 new homes built at Queens Park in Layton and one-bedroomed flats across the resort converted to 108 two and three-bedroomed family homes.

It is hoped to rid the town of a its current glut of one-bedroomed accommodation which is seen as detrimental to creating sustainable communities.

Ambitious

The ambitious scheme will be kick-started by a £3m government grant with the rest of the cash coming from council rents.

Coun Gillian Campbell, cabinet member for housing at Blackpool Council, said: “We’ve been developing plans since last May to ensure we have a structured approach to building new homes in Blackpool.

“If this proposal receives approval from the executive, it’s a big step forward and work to create the new properties would start in the coming months with the aim to have 38 built by next March.

“Providing affordable, quality homes in Blackpool is key to tackling the problems that we face in terms of poverty and health.

“There’s too many people living in substandard accommodation that affects their ability to thrive and succeed.

“This money won’t just provide new homes but a chance for people to have a fresh start and a new life.

“At each stage of the process we will be consulting with tenants to ensure that they are involved in the design of the new homes.

“It’s a really exciting time, over the next three years the landscape of Blackpool will change forever bringing with it huge improvements.”

Blackpool Council’s head of strategic housing Steve Matthews added: “It is a significant step in re-positioning the council’s housing supply so it meets the needs of our residents.”

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Tenants living at Blackpool’s high rise Queens Park estate voted last year in favour of the tower blocks being demolished and replaced with a new low rise estate of up to 250 homes in total.

The 70 proposed as part of this scheme will be the first phase of the development.

The conversions will see council-owned properties across the town containing one-bedroomed flats on the ground and first floors, remodelled to create two and three-bedroomed homes.

Caton Grove in Layton is earmarked for the first phase, with all current tenants having been relocated.

A development framework is being proposed which will see the delivery of 38 homes in the first year of the programme, 63 in the second year and 77 in the third year, with all the work due to be completed by 2015.

The investment has been welcomed by community leaders.

Maureen Horn, of the Grange Park Residents Association, said: “We have already had some new council houses built here and it has really raised the aspirations of the estate.

“It makes it look better and it makes people feel better.

“We need new council housing in Blackpool because it is frightening how many families are on the waiting list.

“People need affordable housing which is also decent housing.”

Bruce Allen, of Blackpool Community First, said: “Not everyone wants to or is capable of buying their own home, so council housing is important.

“And what we really need in Blackpool is accommodation for our own young families who are starting off in life, not just for people who come here from other towns and then declare themselves homeless.”

More detailed plans for Queens Park are expected to be produced later this year.

Gwen King, chairman of Queens Park Residents Association, said: “There is a residents group made up of about 22 members which is meeting with council officers on a fortnightly basis.

“There are no detailed proposals yet, but the kind of things people want to see are that the scheme is secure by design and includes plenty of open space and children’s play areas.”

Councillors will discuss the three-year framework when the executive meets at 5pm on Wednesday at the town hall.

The council is also currently seeking a developer for a scheme for around 400 new homes on land at Rigby Road and Tyldesley Road, but those will be built by a contractor.

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