£5.5m project will create affordable, energy efficient homes for rent

Specialist build-to-rent developer PlaceFirst has started work on a £5.5m scheme to deliver affordable and energy efficient homes in the West End area of Morecambe, Lancs.

The project is being undertaken in partnership with Lancaster City Council. On completion, PlaceFirst will own and operate the properties as part of their expanding portfolio of purpose built rental homes.

The ambitious project will see 29 empty former guesthouses converted into a mix of 51 houses and apartments surrounding a central landscaped courtyard. The completed development will deliver 10 x four bedroom houses, 12 x three bedroom apartments, 26 x two bedroom apartments, and 3 x one bedroom apartments. All of the homes will be for private rent with customers benefitting from flexible, long-term tenancies and rents linked to inflation.

The site is bounded by Regent Road, Chatsworth Road, Albert Road, and Westminster Road.

Rowlinson, an experienced refurbishment construction company will deliver the scheme over a fifteen-month programme, with the first release of homes in December 2015, and full completion anticipated in July 2016.

The 29 properties, acquired by Lancaster City Council with funding from the HCA, will be comprehensively refurbished and reconfigured to create a diverse mix of energy efficient homes that preserve the Victorian heritage of Morecambe’s West End, whilst bringing the homes into the 21st century.

The stylish, contemporary finishes will be complemented by an energy efficiency strategy that seeks to reduce customers running costs by approximately 50% over a typical Victorian house.

The rear yards and extensions will be demolished to make way for an attractive central courtyard, which will be a key feature of the development. The courtyard will be framed by private gardens and will provide limited off-road customer parking.

A number of properties, which have not been acquired by Lancaster City Council, will benefit from property facelifts, ensuring the completed development has a consistently high quality of finish throughout.

On completion the homes will be managed by PlaceFirst’s in-house lettings & management team.

David Smith-Milne, Managing Director of Manchester-based PlaceFirst, said: “It’s great to see work starting on site and real change being delivered in the West End of Morecambe. This area has a rich heritage and we’re thrilled that we are preserving its history whilst bringing the properties into the 21st century. The plans for the new homes look great and will provide much needed affordable family accommodation backed up by a first rate landlord service. Interest in the project to date has been very positive with over 100 enquiries prior to the launch of a marketing campaign which we aim to launch this Summer”.

Andrew Dobson, chief officer (regeneration) Lancaster City Council, said: “The regeneration of Morecambe’s West End is a key priority for the council and it’s testament to a lot of hard work behind the scenes that we have secured a development partner of the quality of PlaceFirst to deliver this scheme.

“We now have the opportunity to make a real difference in both changing the perception of the West End and also its attractiveness to families as a great place to live.”

Architects on the scheme are PlaceFirst Architects, employers agent are Appleyard & Trew.

Upon completion of the 51 new homes, PlaceFirst plan to undertake a similar refurbishment scheme on an adjacent block of large terraced properties.

The project is the fourth rental housing development project in Lancashire being undertaken by PlaceFirst involving the innovative remodelling of Victorian properties. The company are currently delivering a regeneration scheme in Woodnook, Accrington, including the refurbishment of over 100 properties and new public realm interventions, and have recently completed the refurbishment of 27 properties in Colne, Lancashire.

PlaceFirst will be holding a community information meeting for local residents and stakeholders interested in the development, and this is planned to take place at The Hothouse, 13-17 Devonshire Road, Morecambe, LA3 1QT on 27th May from 6-8pm.

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