BLACKPOOL’S skyline will change forever in May when demolition of the town’s high rise estate begins to make way for a £22m housing development.
The first phase of the Queens Park revamp is set to see tower blocks at Ashworth Court and Charles Court reduced to rubble with building work on the new homes expected to start this summer.
The five high rise blocks in total, containing 504 properties, will be replaced by 198 new family homes built around a series of tree-lined squares.
Blackpool Council have announced housing regeneration company Lovell has been chosen from five potential developers to build the homes.
The first residents are expected to move in by March next year.
Gwen King, chairman of the Queens Park Residents Association, told The Gazette: “I’ve been here 11 years and I love my flat.
“I am on the top floor with beautiful views and I will be sad to go.
“But we are getting nice, warm homes and let’s face it, high rise blocks have had their day because they cost a lot to maintain.
“The new family homes will be good for the town, because there are a lot of families here living in sub-standard properties who cannot afford to buy.”
Coun Gillian Campbell, cabinet member for housing on Blackpool Council, said: “The skyline of Blackpool will change forever when the tower blocks are demolished but these plans show a much brighter future where people will be living in good quality accommodation.
“No longer will there be drafty windows and inadequate heating, families will be able to live in properties that will improve their health and help them to prosper.”
Since the council announced the redevelopment in August 2011, no flats have been re-let once they became vacant, and nearly all existing residents of the first blocks to be demolished have been rehomed.
But everyone living on the site is being given chance to stay on the estate and move into one of the new homes if they wish.
And Layton residents were today largely full of praise for the project.
Nigel Davies, 42, of Mather Street, Layton, said: “The designs look really good, I’m pleased by them. It could really kick-start regeneration in this part of Blackpool.”
Alan Sefton, 62, of Churchill Court, Layton, said: “I think it will look good once the place gets built up.
“I have been here 25 years and it will certainly be all change. It will be a good thing for the area.”
Rita Walker, 55, of Collingwood Avenue, Layton, added: “The designs look really impressive.
“It’s a positive step forward for the whole area.
“Hopefully, with the changes that take place, it will improve social aspects in Layton too.”
However, Thomas Fairclough, 60, of Elizabeth Court, Layton, added: “I don’t really like the look of the new buildings, they look quite basic and I’m not that impressed.
“Even if new houses come in and are built, it is still going to be a bad area to live in.”
The cost of the housing scheme is being met by grants including £3m from the Government and £6.5m from the Decent Homes Fund, with additional money being borrowed and repaid from rents.
Tenants were given £4,700 each by the council in compensation for moving.
The scheme also includes a community garden and will make better use of the open space on Layton Recreation Ground.
Brunswick ward councillor Gary Coleman added: “As councillors we know the decisions we take can effect many people, but we also know we are only custodians of the town and it is incumbent on us to take decisions which will have a positive influence on peoples lives long after we’ve left office.
“The Queens Park scheme when finished will lift the living standards of so many people for generations to come.”