Bringing Empty Homes in Barrow Island back into use
Funding allocation for Barrow Island
In 2012 the Council was allocated £3.4m from the Clusters of Empty Homes Fund to help bring empty properties back into use. This fund was set up to deal with neighbourhoods where more than 10% of properties are empty, and where at least 100 homes can be brought back into use. Barrow Island was selected for a bid as the only area in Barrow that met these criteria, and a bid was submitted to bring empty homes back into use in the Barrow Island Flats.
What was the funding used for?
Barrow Island Flats are four storey traditional flats (pictured) which are approximately 100 years old. There are about 750 flats in total, which are all in private ownership and are rented out.
The bulk of the money was be used to work with the the owners of the largest two property portfolios. Together, these contain around 400 flats. The owners are delivering a programme of improvements to provide better quality accommodation. Clusters of Empty Homes funding was be used to provide loans that allowed the programme of refurbishment to be accelerated. This programme has resulted in properties being brought back to a lettable condition and has stimulated demand for the flats. Because the funding was to be used for loans rather than grants, over time it will be repaid by the owners to the Council.
About a third of the fund was used to carry out a programme of improvements to the landscaping of the environment around the Flats. This has improved the general appearance of the neighbourhood and is intended to make it a more attractive place to live.
A condition of the funding allocation was that the Government money had to be matched by investment from elsewhere. For Barrow Island, this match funding came from the private owners, so the public investment has drawn in at least the same amount of private investment.
This programme is consistent with the Council's general policy on tackling Empty Homes, which can be downloaded here.
As part of the project for Barrow Island Flats the Council set money aside to improve the public space around the "Maritime Streets". The Landscape Institute ran a competition on behalf of the Council to appoint a design team to improve this space. The winning designers were Farrer Huxley Associates with James Smith, Growing and Community Involvement Specialist.
The design concept proposed that the creation of a desirable place with great first impressions would be the 'Tipping Point' for the whole regeneration of the neighbourhood. The new public realm would draw residents back into the Maritime Streets, to make the area a great place to live with a sustainable and healthy long-term future.
Farrer Huxley's draft master plan can be viewed by clicking the link here. You can also view two impressions of the proposed scheme: View 1 and View 2.
Ground Control Ltd were appointed as contractors to build the new landscaped area. The construction work took place throughout 2017, and the scheme was officially opened on 5th October 2017 - see pictures below.
We are also delighted to announce that the scheme won "Best Commercial Landscaping Design" at the Northern Design Awards held 24th November 2017.
Any queries should be directed to the contact details at the bottom of this page.