Home improvement boost for historic Welsh streets

A home improvement fund is to be launched to complete the final phase of the award-winning Welsh Streets regeneration scheme in the Toxteth area of Liverpool.

Liverpool City Council Cabinet today (Friday, 11 January) approved a £750,000 fund be created to ensure privately owned properties be upgraded to complement other refurbishment schemes in the historic neighbourhood which had once been earmarked for demolition, before the Government cancelled the Housing Renewal Initiative in 2010.

The Welsh Streets Home Improvement Grant will be available to owner occupiers in the following streets:

  • Gwydir Street
  • Pengwern Street
  • Treborth Street
  • South Street (between Admiral Street and Gwydir Street)

The aim of the grant, which will go live in March, is to assist home owners in improving the efficiency of their property such as a new roof, loft insulation and windows, as well as improving internal services like a renewed kitchen or a renewed central heating system.

A total of 154 Victorian era terraced properties in Phase 3 of the Welsh Streets are currently being refurbished, the majority of which by housing association Plus Dane as part of a £17.4m programme to create modern, contemporary homes in the Toxteth neighbourhood. A further 200 properties have been revamped in phases 1 and 2, by developer Place First.

Plus Dane have recently completed a pilot scheme of seven units at Gwydir Street and have begun the follow up phases to refurbish a further 125 Council and Plus Dane owned properties. This programme will include two into one conversions, external enveloping and internal refurbishment and will result in 100 fully refurbished new homes for their tenants.

The Welsh Streets is not the only area of the city that required action following the collapse of the HMRI, with properties earmarked for demolition in Granby, Picton, Anfield and Kensington all rescued through various schemes most notably the £1 house initiative.

In response to future proofing and rebalancing the city’s housing stock and meeting the demands of a rising population, Liverpool City Council has now established a new housing company – Foundations – which has a remit to create 10,000 new properties over the coming decade in a £1bn investment programme.

Councillor Lynnie Hinnigan, Deputy Mayor of Liverpool and Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “The regeneration of the Welsh Streets community is one of the city’s great success stories of the past decade and required a huge amount of partnership working to transform a collapsed idea into an award-winning scheme.

“The people living in the Welsh Streets have been on a huge roller-coaster ride from bordering on seeing their homes demolished and being rehoused to seeing their Victorian homes being spectacularly re-engineered to 21st century standards.

“We are now entering the final phase of this dramatic transformation and there is a clear need to support those who have bought their properties in this area of the Welsh Streets and give the same type of support to those who rent and are being catered for by the housing association.

“This home improvement grant will also help complete the overall aesthetic look of these streets and ensure all those living in the Welsh Streets can take pride in this amazing regeneration scheme.”

To qualify for a Home Improvement Grant the applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • be an owner occupier in one of the streets identified above;
  • Provide proof that the applicant and/or the applicant’s family has lived in the dwelling for a period of 5 years prior to applying for the grant;
  • Be aged 18 or over;
  • Lives in the dwelling as the main residence; and
  • Has a duty to carry out the works

The level of work will be informed by surveys carried out to each property and will have to be approved by the city council. It will also be a condition of the scheme that if an owner disposes of the property by sale within a 10 year period from when the works are deemed complete, the owner of the property will be required to repay the full cost of the works. Once the 10 year period has passed the charge is removed and no further costs are repayable.

The maximum amount of grant offered to each owner occupier will be capped at £50,000 per property on these limits:

  • Front of property. Up to £15,000.
  • Rear of property. Up to £15,000.
  • Internal works. Up to £20,000.