Nav Toggle

West End One, Morecambe

Residential Conversion (individual or practice)
AFTER Conversion
BEFORE Conversion
BEFORE Conversion
AFTER Conversion
BEFORE Conversion
AFTER Conversion
BEFORE Conversion
AFTER Conversion
BEFORE Conversion
AFTER Conversion
BEFORE Conversion
AFTER Conversion
AFTER Conversion
BEFORE Conversion
AFTER Conversion
BEFORE Conversion
AFTER Conversion
BEFORE Conversion
AFTER Conversion

CONTEXT
West End One is a unique residential development delivered through refurbishment and remodelling of 27 derelict former guest houses into 44 high quality family houses and apartments including 1, 2, 3 & 4-bedroom homes.

West End One is located in the West End neighbourhood of Morecambe, a traditional seaside town in the NW of England. The West End was once home to many large guesthouses but, since the decline of British coastal holidays, the area has become increasingly characterised by HMO’s and poor-quality housing stock.

The £5.5m development was delivered by specialist private rented developer, Placefirst in partnership with Lancaster City Council and has been built to rent, aimed at the growing number of households that rely on the private rented sector for their accommodation needs.

CHALLENGES
Local Housing Market: The West End has suffered from housing decline as demand for guest houses reduced and HMO’s moved in to take their place. The rental market is mature in this area but offered nothing of affordable quality for aspirational working households looking to rent an attractive property they could genuinely call a home. Without a quality offer that could accommodate households of different sizes, the area suffered from community transience due to tenant churn.

More families than ever rely on the PRS for their housing needs and our ambition was to deliver a quality offer that could address the issues in the local housing market and begin to re-establish the West End as a family friendly neighbourhood through a new benchmark in private renting.

Existing Properties: The existing properties were completely derelict and had stood empty for up to ten years. In every respect, they were fit for demolition, but this was not possible as the properties sat within terraces that included privately owned houses.

The design and construction methodology had to find a way of refurbishing the properties as modern family homes within the constraints of a challenging local housing market where values are low, standards are poor, and there was little comparable evidence that a high quality, well designed scheme would work.

Procurement: The empty properties were in a poor state and it was our intention to deliver the works through a fixed price Design & Build contract. This created significant risk for the contractor and ourselves, given the fact that each property was unique and its structural challenges varied considerably across the scheme. This was addressed through a collaborative working arrangement with the contractor that, whilst having its challenges from time to time, resulted in a high quality finished product, with minimal defects and within a cost envelope that was ultimately nearly £100,000 under budget.

Lettings: The West End of Morecambe is an area of low housing demand, with an oversupply of poor quality, badly managed private rented housing stock. Our strategy set out to deliver a new benchmark in private renting, making the most of the distinctive Victorian heritage whilst bringing the properties into the 21st century with features such as open-plan living, en-suites and balconies overlooking the new courtyard.

To achieve this we knew we would need to break through the ceiling of prevailing local rents but we remained confident that there would be a target audience in Morecambe that would be able and prepared to pay a premium to live in a distinctive new home that they knew they call genuinely call a home.

DESIGN SOLUTION
We wanted West End One to offer something unique that could attract aspirational households looking for a rental property where they could put down roots and raise a family. Following a considered design review process, we decided placemaking would be a key feature of the development, complimenting the new homes and providing safe, attractive ‘common ground’ where our residents could get to know each other and feel a sense of community.

We demolished an entire row of outriggers behind the properties on Westminster Road, and this allowed us to re-invent the traditional rear yard & alley traditionally associated with Victorian terraced housing. In their place we now have an attractive, landscaped courtyard at the heart of the development, overlooked by gardens, terraces and balconies. We deliberately dropped the boundary fencing to a lower height to enhance overlooking of this central space, and to promote social exchanges between neighbours. This design approach has proved to be very popular with residents, providing a space where children are playing and new friendships forming.

West End One has preserved and enhanced the Victorian heritage of the wider West End to the street, whilst everything behind it has embraced modern design. Internal layouts have been completely remodelled to suit the needs of modern living, energy efficiency has been improved by over 50%, and the new courtyard provides attractive external amenity.

OUTCOMES
West End One completed in September 2016 and was delivered to budget and on programme. The development is profitable and has established a new ceiling for values in the West End of Morecambe. The new homes all let faster than anticipated, with the first release of homes all let off-plan.

The development has renewed confidence within the local community, who are no longer blighted by a large cluster of empty homes. Since we began work on West End One, similar properties in the local area are now being refurbished, preserving the distinct Victorian heritage of the West End. Placefirst is now planning to start work a second phase, West End Two, later in 2017.

West End One has addressed a significant housing issue in Morecambe, improving the local PRS offer and demonstrating that lower income households reliant on the private rental sector (a core Placefirst target demographic) have an aspiration for quality and, ultimately, want to live in a rented property they are proud to call home.

Placefirst have transformed a long-term eyesore and magnet for anti-social issues into an aspirational place to live through innovative property remodelling and a commitment to driving up standards in the private rented sector.