Empty Ancoats towers get new lease of life

Simon Donohue

Work has finally begun on the refurbishment of three residential town blocks in Manchester that have been empty for 15 years.

Leases for the Manchester City Council-owned properties in the Ancoats area were originally acquired by Urban Splash, which abandoned its plans for refurbishment as a result of the recession.

The Chippenham, Saltford and Rodney Court towers are now being refurbished by a new partnership between Manchester City Council, Ancoats Residential Holdings and Rowlinsons Construction, bringing 192 residential properties back into use.

The project has been provided with a £7.9m Build to Rent loan from the Homes & Communities Agency, the first to be awarded in the country.

Project manager is Housing Capital Trust.

Initial works have now begun in the Saltford and Chippenham blocks, clearing asbestos and preparing the site for a complete refurbishment both internally and externally, incorporating significant energy efficient measures designed to reduce both carbon emissions and minimise energy bills.

The redevelopment works will be completed on the Saltford block by December 2014, with completion on the other two blocks by March 2015.

The properties will be offered for private rent. Architect for the project is Pozzoni.

Rowlinsons also partnered Manchester City Council to bring back into use 27 properties in East Manchester for affordable sale.

Cllr Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council's executive member for housing and regeneration, said: "These three blocks have been a blight on the landscape of north Manchester for far too long and local people will no doubt be relieved that works are now in progress to bring them back in to use.

"Empty homes represent a major housing resource for the city and projects like this are vital to ensure there is enough good quality housing for Manchester people."

Steve Weir, construction director at Rowlinson Constructions, said: "The company prides itself on the skills of both its management and workforce and I am confident working closely with our supply chain and delivery partners the project will create employment and training opportunities.

"It will stimulate further growth for local companies and suppliers whilst also making a positive contribution to the regeneration of Ancoats and Manchester. We are confident this project will have a positive impact on the economic and social sustainability of the local community."

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