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Friday, January 4, 2013

Ghost town set for rebirth: Rows of boarded-up terraced houses in Accrington to be brought back to life with £10m revamp

- Rows of terraced houses stand empty in Accrington, Lancashire, despite the UK's well-documented 'housing crisis'
- Lancashire has the highest proportion of vacant homes, neighbouring Blackburn has 3,000 empty dwellings
- There are thought to be some 850,000 empty homes nationwide
- The Woodnook area of Accrington is to undergo a revamp that will see 200 of these homes given a new lease of life


Wasteland: A boy kicks a football around in a scene that looks like something out of television soap Coronation Street, but these homes currently stand empty

A desolate urban ghost town, it is hard to believe that these streets belong to Accrington, formerly a major hub of the north's cotton and textile industry.
With rows and rows of boarded up terraced housing, anyone unfamiliar with the area would be forgiven for mistaking the wasteland site as a scene of war or natural disaster.

Vacant: Lancashire in general has the highest proportion of vacant homes according to a recent survey, with just over seven per cent of Hyndburn homes currently empty

This is Woodnook, an area of Accrington with a less than sparkling reputation, which would've once housed a bustling community of factory workers and their families.
But although the scene looks bleak now, these streets could soon be thronged with families again as a £10million project to revive the area that will eventually see 200 of these homes given a makeover has started.

Desolate: Rows and rows of terraced housing in Accrington, Lancashire, stands desolate after the Government pulled the plug on a redevlopment scheme. But the area looks set to be given a new lease of life thanks to private investement

Bleak: A lone woman walks through the empty streets of Woodnook, Accrington. Developers hope that these streets will soon be bustling with a project underway to create four-bedroomed homes fit for the 21st century family

Gone: Dozens of children's hand prints adorn a wall in Accrington. The Woodnook area was once home to hundreds of families but now stands empty

Isolated: Around 25 per cent of homeowners were left isolated n the Woodnook area when the Government pulled the plug on the Pathfinder Housing Market Renewal Scheme

According to Hyndburn Council deputy leader Clare Pritchard, the Woodnook area was left in limbo when the coalition Government came into power in 2010 and dropped the Pathfinder Housing Market Renewal Scheme.
By the time the project was dropped, plans were afoot to demolish and redevelop much of the area, with around 75 per cent of residents having already moved out.
She said: 'The problem here is not a lack of housing, it's that we have the wrong kind of housing. We found that there's no call for 'two up, two down' housing anymore.

Depressing: A lone man walks down an alley separating two rows of terraces in Woodnook, Lancashire. There is no longer a demand for 'two-up, two-down' houses like these according to local councillor Clare Pritchard

'We're an old mill town and many of these homes were built before 1900, they're not energy efficient and it's too cramped for a family living there.
'When the Government dropped the HMR scheme the area had around 25 per cent occupancy, we were unable to buy the remaining residents out and they were unable to sell because who would want to buy a house in an empty area.'
But Woodnook is one of the lucky areas.

Glimmer of hope: Private firm PlaceFirst has stepped in and offered Hyndburn Council money to complete a £10million regeneration scheme of these streets

Deluge: Rain pours down the walls of empty former council houses in the Lancashire town of Accrington as it waits to be modernised by private developers

Uprooted: 75 per cent of residents had left the area before plans to flatten these Woodnook homes and regenerate the area ground to a halt, they are now completely empty

A private company, Place First, stepped in and fresh £10million plans to give the area a new lease of life are being put into action this week.
Five ghost town streets are to be spruced up with traditional terraced homes knocked through to create four-bedroomed homes fit for 21st century families in time for the beginning of 2014.
Eventually 200 homes will be given a 21st century revival.
Ms Pritchard said: 'The homes will be below market rental price so we hope to mix up the community. We want to use this to really sell Accrington.'
Before the industrial revolution, Accrington was thought of as a 'considerable village'. But But a number of cotton and textile mills were built in the town in the mid 18th century providing work for much of the town.
The industrial revolution saw a huge boom in population in the area and the population increased by more than four times its size in 100 years between 1811 and 1911.

Deserted: The area looks more like the scene of a war or a natural disaster with the majority of windows and doors boarded up and the remainder broken

Good value: The new houses in Woodnook are to be rented for lower than market value and councillors hope it will 'mix up' the population

Revival: Eventually 200 homes are to be given a complete revamp in Accrington

While much of the country, particularly London and the south, struggles to solve the lack of housing for burgeoning populations with many London boroughs desperately taking to moving some council residents out of the city and further north due to a lack of space, Accrington belongs to Lancashire - the county with the highest proportion of vacant houses, according to a recent survey.
In Hyndburn alone, the local authority which Accrington is a part of, just over seven per cent of houses stand empty.

source: dailymail

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