Disreputable landlords ventured into these areas and a predominance of bed sits became interspersed with the family living accommodation who were still living in the area, resulting in poor quality residential environments with mounting social problems. The West End in Morecambe was one such area which saw a poor end for these once grandiose townhouses, originally built as summer retreats by wealthy northern business owners during the Edwardian era.
The Local authority had resolved to make changes through the Housing Market Renewal Initiative but were left holding the baby when funding was withdrawn, and then the common problem occurred where clusters of empty properties only help to spiral the degeneration and decline further.
Two phases of two full residential blocks, of 29 empty guesthouses into 51 homes and 23 guesthouses into 45 homes which includes a mix of 2, 3 and 4 bedroom apartments and 5 bedroom houses have now been completed. Transformation of these 2 blocks has seen huge demand for these high quality homes for private rent. Through a holistic commitment to fostering social values through design intervention and by retaining the quality and presence of these heritage assets, a sustainable new neighbourhood has emerged where families can now settle.
The contemporary conversions were complemented by an energy efficiency strategy that seeks to reduce the customers running costs by approximately 50% over that of a typical Victorian house or apartment conversion. The rear yards and outrigger extensions have been demolished to make way for an attractive central communal courtyard framed and overlooked by private gardens.
A number of properties, which were not acquired by Lancaster City Council, have also benefited from property facelifts, ensuring the completed development and the whole streetscape has a consistently high quality of finish throughout, making a clear statement that positive change has taken place and that a new chapter in the history of the West End has now been brought forward.