Blackpool Housing Company – Reads Avenue

Converting a rundown 28 bedroom hotel into quality social housing

The challenge

Blackpool Housing Company (BHC), is on a mission to convert some of the town’s unwanted hotel space into quality affordable housing. Reads Avenue, close to the centre of town, was home to a rundown 28 bedroom hotel. Our challenge was to convert it into eight affordable housing units. The development would consist of:

  • 5 x 2 bed

  • 2 x 1 bed

  • Annex

Social housing that doesn’t feel like social housing
BHC believes that social housing should be more than basic. Give a tenant a great home, and you give them a source of pride and a reason to care for the property. Yet whilst the brief was for a high end result, the budget and timescales remained extremely tight. Our challenge then, was to complete a project in 16 weeks that would typically take 24+, and to create social housing on a social housing price, without it ever looking or feeling ‘budget’.

The work

Key aspects

Value engineering: Effectively an exercise in saving money whilst delivering better specifications, the biggest challenge in this project was delivering the client’s vision for a price that would not typically be doable. We worked extremely hard to find a way to make it happen, including revising designs to create additional space, and even taking the client to builders’ merchants so they could choose the highest possible spec of fixings and fittings within their budget.

 New steel, new structure: The project required lots of structural work including demolition, taking out walls, and inserting lots of new steel. That brought with it significant H&S compliance considerations, all of which needed careful management.

 Utility liaison: The utilities feeding the building may have been sufficient for an old hotel, but they were not appropriate for new housing. The power supply was insufficient for eight properties and the gas and water mains were too small.

 Bringing new utilities to a development is not a ‘quick fix’ and typically requires around 24 weeks from initial conversation. Given the tight timescales, we liaised with the utility companies to speed up the process, and new supplies were connected in 8 weeks

 Cashback: Every contractor considers itself a partner in the social housing developments it works on. But at Evolution, we back up that commitment. That’s why for BHC, and any publicly funded social housing project on which we work, we give back 1% of spend to be put towards good causes.

Results

Reads Avenue quickly became the flagship property for Blackpool Housing Company (only recently superseded by another of our developments).

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