New report backs £15m Welsh Streets plans

Welsh Streets

An independent review of housing in the Princes Park area has backed the city’s plans to revitalise the Welsh Streets through the delivery of 150 new homes and clearance of derelict properties.

Property services consultants DTZ were commissioned in August 2012 to carry out an up-to-date Neighbourhood Renewal Assessment (NRA) for Princes Park, to evaluate housing renewal options and to explore the aspirations of local people.

DTZ looked at a range of options and concluded that the city council and Plus Dane Group’s plans for the “replacement of obsolete housing and redevelopment with new homes” is the most effective method to support the regeneration of the Welsh Streets.
The report found that the council’s proposals for the area would offer a comprehensive scheme to support the physical, environmental and perceptual transformation of the area.

It recognised that this option would diversify the existing local housing stock within the area, offering modern family housing – with gardens and off street parking. This, in turn would help to create a more sustainable community, by encouraging local people to remain in the area, rather than having to meet their aspirations elsewhere, and attracting new residents.

The city council is now putting forward the recommendation to proceed with the £15 million housing renewal plans for the area, paving the way to the official submission, later this month, of the planning application.

The proposed scheme, delivered by the city council and Plus Dane, includes the delivery of over 150 affordable, high-quality new homes for the local community and new residents, built to the highest standards. The properties, for rent and sale, will provide a diverse mix of housing for the area, and will be designed to be energy efficient and spacious, with many including gardens. Under the plans, 280 homes will be demolished and 37 homes retained for refurbishment in partnership with the local community.

Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Ann O’Byrne, said: “This review has been invaluable in providing an up-to-date picture of housing in the Princes Park area and gauging what local people want. We have already been given a clear message from the majority of Welsh Streets residents that they are in favour of our plans, and this report gives us further confidence in the potential of this scheme to drive forward the regeneration of the area.

“We are now looking to press ahead with the submission of the planning application for the scheme. We believe it will revitalise housing in the Welsh Streets, and deliver the type of homes that people have consistently told us they want to live in, with gardens and driveways.

“Everything we are doing is aimed at creating a vibrant, attractive and sustainable neighbourhood, with a good mix of housing. Residents have endured too many delays in the revival of their neighbourhood and I would hope that we will now be able to move forward quickly with these exciting plans.”

The DTZ report recognises that the redevelopment of Welsh Streets will be delivered in a funding and policy climate where public sector funding is limited, house building is at an all time low, but need is increasing. In response to these factors, there has been a shift in national policy and funding, away from clearance. The report states that, given this shift, a small element of refurbishment should be considered for the area.

The city council and Plus Dane’s plans meet this recommendation through the proposals to retain 40 houses, including the refurbishment of 37 terraced properties – 16 of these on Madryn Street, 5 on High Park Street and 16 Kelvin Grove. The Council and Plus Dane will be launching a pilot scheme to give the local community the opportunity to refurbish the 16 Madryn Street properties which had previously been earmarked for demolition – including 9 Madryn Street, the childhood home of Ringo Starr.

The report concludes by acknowledging that the city council and Plus Dane scheme encompasses a number of key principles which are vital for the transformation of the Welsh Streets, including:

  • Determining the optimum mix of new build and refurbishment, proceeding with significant clearance to remove the properties in the worst condition, and delivering a better mix of housing through new build.
  • Taking into account the views of local residents.
  • Delivering action on the ground as soon as possible.
  • Meeting current national, regional and local policy and funding priorities – in order to attract public sector financial support.

The recommendations in the DTZ report follow two large-scale public consultation events at Toxteth Town Hall last September, at which 71% of people who completed feedback forms said they were in favour of the plans.

Comments included: “The plans are amazing. We are so in favour of new homes.”; “There seems to have been a good understanding of community needs and the plans look good.”; and “the area is good, but properties need improvement.”

The plans for the Welsh Streets form part of the wider housing renewal programme in the Princes Park neighbourhood which was declared in 2005 for a period of up to 10 years. There are 2,500 properties within the renewal area and over 80 per cent of the existing properties are to be retained.

DTZ is a global leader in the property services field, providing a range of advice for clients on property development and urban regeneration. Their report, which has now been published, follows previous NRA’s in 2005 and 2010 which also recommended clearance and redevelopment for part of the Welsh Streets, with the retention of most of the stock in the wider Princes Park area.

The full DTZ report can be viewed at http://liverpool.gov.uk/council/strategies-plans-and-policies/housing/housing-renewal/library/, within the ‘Princes Park’ section.