‘Regenerating an area that was in great need of it’

Coun Christine Wright, Simeon Worthington of Hollinwood Homes, and Coun Gillian Campbell at the Foxhall development
Coun Christine Wright, Simeon Worthington of Hollinwood Homes, and Coun Gillian Campbell at the Foxhall development
Share this article
Have your say

A home by the sea has long been an aspiration for many people.

But here in Blackpool, properties nearest the seafront are too often shabby rooms in former hotels, converted to bedsits with a gas ring and shared bathroom.

Not exactly the kind of place you would want to bring up a family in.

And therein lies the root of the resort’s housing problem.

Not enough family housing, and too much cheap single-room accommodation.

That in turn has attracted inward migration of people searching for low-cost lodgings, putting pressure on local services and more often then not, when they do get back on their feet, moving on only to be replaced by another set of troublesome tenants.

To break that cycle required some bold thinking.

And four years after land was cleared to bring about the transformation required, a new neighbourhood is taking shape on a 19-acre site between Central Drive, Rigby Road and Tyldesley Road.

Garstang-based Hollinwood Homes is well underway with building a total of 410 homes with the £50m project due to be completed over the next four years.

All 70 units built for rent through the Great Places Housing group have now been completed with many tenants already moved in.

Demand for the homes was four times oversubscribed, such was the appeal of moving onto the site where roads have been named after Blackpool FC’s 1953 FA Cup winning team.

Tenants had to be in full-time work to qualify for one of the houses in order to create a sustainable new neighbourhood where people are not relying solely on housing benefit.

The rest of the houses now being built are for private sale, but with prices starting at £100,000 and a four-bed home on the market for £150,000, they have been deliberately aimed at first time buyers and families looking to settle down.

Simeon Worthington, a director of Hollinwood Homes, said: “We are creating a new market for family housing in an area where there hadn’t been any. There has been a concentration of houses of multiple occupation.

“What we are offering is really good quality, very intelligently designed, modern housing to the latest standards. We are creating a new community and that’s the whole idea of the scheme.

“It is regenerating an area that was in great need of it and we are very proud to be associated with that.”

Just getting to this stage has been a huge task.

The council met the £15m cost of clearing the site, which included the demolition of the gas holders at Blundell Street, using grants and Government funding from the New Homes Bonus, aimed at encouraging house building.

The former Illuminations depot and donkey stables on Rigby Road also had to be knocked down.

Former guesthouses on Blundell Street and Tyldesley Road have been bulldozed, and the outcome of a compulsory purchase order to enable other properties to be acquired and flattened is due in coming weeks.

The final phased will see building on the site of the former Mecca building on Central Drive.

The construction is also creating jobs, with 140 workers on site during the height of the building process.

Steve Matthews, head of housing at Blackpool Council, said: “We want to see economic change in this area which is why we wanted people who are working to move into the Great Places houses.

“It is about changing the housing market and taking out the stuff we don’t want - the redundant guesthouses and HMOs.

“Blackpool provides a great place for people to live but doesn’t have all the housing opportunities

“We have also really challenged Hollinwood on the design and said we wanted them to make it coastal-themed, and the outside bays and the colours are part of that.

“Now here in Blackpool we have a quality development coming forward that can rival anything anywhere in the country.”