Neighbourhood Renewal

Woodnook Accrington

Woodnook is a historic Victorian neighbourhood located on the doorstep of Accrington town centre. The neighbourhood has had a pretty tough time over recent years, and some believed the overwhelming number of empty terraced properties in the area should have been pulled down to make way for new homes.

We saw things slightly differently when asked to consider a development and design strategy seeking to create family homes and restore some pride back into the area. These stone-faced millworkers terraced cottages provided the area with it’s unique local identity and was an example of a northern mill town community, the type that existed across many similar towns in the region.

From the outset, we wanted to work with the heritage of Woodnook not against it, so we set about exploring how we could retain and remodel the terraced house, creating modern, energy efficient homes that preserve and enhance the past whilst embracing modern living requirements.

We stripped the properties right back to their original structure, revealing the work required to remodel the original and very cramped two up two down properties into a more meaningful and varied mix of house sizes and types. We have turned 90 empty properties into 72 family homes of two, three, and four bedrooms. We have knocked through into adjacent properties to create spacious, light filled homes with a focus on long-term ‘liveability’. Understanding that growing families have growing needs requiring flexible plan design, we also wanted to create a neighbourhood where young family’s can come and establish some roots.

We also wanted to ensure that tenant’s benefit from lower bills against a backdrop of raising energy prices. As such and through a fabric first approach these new homes in Woodnook are significantly cheaper to run than a typical terraced house in the area.

Working closely with the Local authority, the developer and their JV partner (Together Housing Group) additional initiatives were realised beyond the remodelling of the terraced homes and on street public realm improvements. So in addition we also instigated and managed on behalf of the local authority, a shop front facelift scheme for the local adjoining high street, creating a new public square for local events in front of a renovated community hall. An area wide housing facelift programmes for adjoining streets was also funded by the local authority. All of this has created a far greater impact of combined improvements and has quite literally changed the face and brought rejuvenated character back to Woodnook, changing completely the direction of decline in which the area was previously heading.