Levelling Up minister Michael Gove announces £90m for massive housing transformation in Blackpool

The funding will turbocharge work already being done to improve housing
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Blackpool has been awarded £90m of government cash which will be injected into a whole-scale transformation of squalid housing in the town.

The money will be used to improve housing in the inner areasThe money will be used to improve housing in the inner areas
The money will be used to improve housing in the inner areas

The announcement was made today (Friday, March 1) by Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, at the Convention of the North 2024 in Leeds. The sum of £90m from Homes England’s Brownfield Infrastructure Land Fund programme will catalyse vital regeneration projects in some of the most deprived areas of inner Blackpool.

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Housing in the town’s inner areas has suffered from a legacy including poorly converted former holiday accommodation into permanent homes, with recent inspections showing properties suffering from poor conditions including damp.

Council leader Coun Lynn Williams said: “Our residents and communities desperately need better housing and investment in their neighbourhoods, especially in the inner areas of Blackpool. We will use this funding to continue the process of positive change, improving housing, neighbourhoods and life chances across inner Blackpool. We will be holding a full public consultation concerning our plans for a first phase.”

The investment, which forms part of the Government’s levelling up commitment to the town, will be used over the coming years to start to acquire property, facilitate master-planning of key areas, develop further funding bids and help prepare for the development of new housing in Blackpool.

Previously the council unveiled masterplans to improve neighbourhoods in Revoe, Claremont and around the Waterloo Road area of South Shore. In March 2022, Blackpool was selected as one of 20 levelling up pilot areas in the country and received a grant of £1.3m to create new enforcement teams to tackle rogue landlords and improve housing standards.

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The Government also supported Homes England to work with the council and partners to prepare a business case for funding of a first phase of physical intervention to improve housing in the central area.

Coun Lynn WilliamsCoun Lynn Williams
Coun Lynn Williams

Coun Williams added: “We are extremely pleased about today’s announcement. It has been eagerly awaited and is a testament to the strong working relationship we have with Central Government, Homes England and a number of other partners locally and nationally.”

She said: “We want to create strong neighbourhoods – stable, thriving and sustainable neighbourhoods that have access to things like health services, decent jobs, quality housing, schools and leisure activities.

“It is our vision that over time you will see the removal of housing that does not meet modern standards, with new and better housing created in its place, in better neighbourhoods, designed with the interests of Blackpool residents and businesses at their heart. We want people to love where they live.”

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Levelling up minister Jacob Young visited Blackpool in January to get a first-hand look at how government cash has already been used to tackle sub-standard housing.

Minister Jacob Young with Coun Lynn Williams during a visit to the town in JanuaryMinister Jacob Young with Coun Lynn Williams during a visit to the town in January
Minister Jacob Young with Coun Lynn Williams during a visit to the town in January

He said Blackpool had been chosen for the pilot because of the proliferation of poor properties as failing hotels had been converted into residential accommodation.

The scale of Blackpool’s housing problems was revealed when the first phase of the pilot scheme saw around 150 inspections carried out. Visits to 76 properties found category one hazards, which are the worst conditions to be living in and include cold and damp rooms.

The £1 billion Brownfield, Infrastructure and Land fund was launched by the Department for Levelling Up in July 2023 and will unlock an estimate 65,000 homes across the country.

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Peter Denton, chief executive of Homes England, said: "I defy anyone to not be moved by the challenges that many of the residents of Blackpool face in their day-to-day life.

"Blackpool Council are utterly committed to addressing this and Homes England very much wishes to support the vision they have for their town and its inhabitants.

"This investment signals Levelling Up in action, indeed social equity, accelerating the regeneration of housing in inner Blackpool as part of a much wider mission to transform local communities and catalyse vital positive change in some of the town’s most deprived areas."

Blackpool South MP Scott Benton said the investment would cover areas including Revoe/Central Drive, Foxhall and Bond Street/Waterloo Road.

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He said: "It’s a huge vote of confidence in Blackpool and the work taking place to regenerate our town. The fuller details will emerge in time and the project will be led by the council.

"They know the huge appetite for spending part of this money on Bond Street, Waterloo Road and Central drive and they must ensure that the plans which come forward include specifically include these areas and residents are consulted on any plans."

Chris Webb, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate in Blackpool South, also welcomed the announcement.

He said: “Being Blackpool born and bred, I understand the pressing need for affordable and safe housing options for our residents. This substantial funding will not only help alleviate the housing shortage but will also create job opportunities and stimulate the local economy.”

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