Capita’s Place and Assets Solutions team is supporting Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council in making major improvements to a relatively deprived neighbourhood by preparing a feasibility study, development brief and tender exercise for a 140-home development that is now under construction.
Blackburn with Darwen is the largest borough in Lancashire. It has a higher-than-average proportion of young people (0-19) compared to the national figure and a smaller proportion of older people (65 and over). It is also a relatively deprived borough, and the health of people in the borough lags behind the England average on a range of indicators. Life expectancy rates for the borough remain below national levels.
Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council was keen to improve Blackburn’s Griffin neighbourhood where these challenging issues needed to be addressed.
It developed a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) for the area based on the vision to “create an area where young and old choose to live in good quality homes in a safe and well managed environment”.
The council recognised that significant changes were needed to recreate a sustainable community and neighbourhood in the area. Although most residents were happy living there, a significant number were not and wanted to see investment in their neighbourhood to create:
- Better housing conditions
- Safer, more attractive streets and open spaces
- Larger family homes
- Housing with private gardens and secure car parking areas
- More high-quality affordable housing.
It had implemented the first phase of the plan in the SPD, which had addressed the key issues of:
- Acquiring empty properties
- Clearing obsolete housing
- Dealing with neighbourhood problems and anti-social behaviour.
It now needed new high-quality homes to replace those that had been demolished. In 2016, the council commissioned Capita to help it to develop a viable and fundable strategy for a development that would enhance the area and make it more sustainable. The development was to be delivered by the private sector and would need to meet the residents’ aspirations for improvement.
To meet these objectives, Capita’s Place and Assets Solutions team first prepared feasibility studies and commissioned surveys of the site. We prepared indicative layout proposals to test capacity and to demonstrate the extent to which the area could be changed. The proposals retained the best of the existing terraced housing and promoted redevelopment of the cleared sites.
We then helped the council to select a suitable development partner by preparing design briefs and tender documents, and by assessing the quality of the bid responses it received.
A development partner (supported by a housing association) is now investing in the area. It is building 140 new homes to buy outright, rent or purchase under a shared ownership scheme.
Securing funding for the scheme
Our proposals also helped to secure a grant from the One Public Estate Land Release Fund (LRF), a programme that helps councils to use their surplus land for housing.
Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council used the £600,000 LRF grant to address historic site issues. The money was used to carry out essential site works, invest in remediating the land and improving access into the area.
Remedial works have been carried out and the first phase of the development is underway, this is expected to be completed by March 2022.
Subhan Ali, Strategic Development Manager at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “Capita officers provided valuable professional input in helping the council to deliver its vision for the regeneration and redevelopment of the Griffin area.”
Capita’s Place and Assets Solutions team continue to work closely with the council. We’re helping to bring other developments to fruition, including a 16-acre site that will provide 300 new homes. We are acting as the council’s technical advisor and helping it to deliver a high-quality development that includes key worker accommodation for health workers at Royal Blackburn Hospital and East Lancashire Health Trust.
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