Plans for an innovative project aimed at transforming the housing market in two of the most deprived wards, Cliftonville West and Margate Central has been given the go-ahead.
A collaboration between Thanet District Council, Kent County.Council and the Homes and Communities Agency will see up to £21m being invested in ‘Live Margate’ Housing Intervention Project to encourage long-term regeneration and make Cliftonville West and Margate Centre more attractive and desirable places to live.
The organisations will work together to improve housing conditions, offer a wide range of accommodation for individuals and families and reduce the number of empty and derelict homes and the project will, replace empty and poorly managed buildings with high quality and well managed family housing to regenerate the area. The Housing Intervention will take advantage of the quality of the architecture in the area and through a combination of refurbishment and where appropriate redevelopment, will provide mixed tenure housing to meet the requirements of a sustainable and vibrant community.
This 10 to 15 year initiative is a key project and a priority that has been identified in the council's Corporate Plan 2012-16 and aims to tackle the socio-economic and environmental problems within the intervention area.
Over the years, Cliftonville West has seen an influx of one-bedroom flats and homes of multiple occupation (HMOs). As tourism has declined, many of the large Victorian properties, some previously hotels, have been converted as they have been attractive properties for landlords to buy, sub divide and rent. With a huge increase in this type of accommodation at the lower end of the rental market, it has led to a change in the type of properties and demographics in the area. As these properties have become easily accessible housing for benefit dependant individuals, they have become less attractive to prospective buyers wanting to invest.
In 2011, certain parts of Cliftonville West and Margate Central were designated as a selective licensing area under part 3 of the Housing Act 2004. This requires every residential premises, which is privately let to one or more tenants to be licensed by the council if it is within a designated area.
The project will work in conjunction with other schemes including Margate Task Force, Selective Licensing and Empty Property projects to tackle a range of issues that all have an impact on the area’s deprivation including unemployment, anti-social behaviour and poor management of privately rented accommodation - currently around 78% of properties are privately rented.
As part of the project, local communities living in these wards will be involved in the design aspect to help influence the look and feel of the regeneration of the area.
Cllr. David Green, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “This project will see much needed investment in Cliftonville West and Margate Central to bring it back to its former glory and be somewhere where people want to live and invest into.
“This is part of a larger project and we know that intervention is key in transforming the housing market in these two areas. Despite many attempts and actions to tackle the issues, the area has continued to decline.
“We know this will be a challenge and will take time but to end this decline, we will purchase property that has been empty or neglected and make improvements. This will change the housing stock and encourage investment and new life into an area that was once a popular seaside location. “Cliftonville West already comprises of a variety of homes that have rich character, making it a fine example of historic seaside architecture. Margate has already benefited from a significant investment in the Old Town and the Turner Contemporary Gallery and with the most recent announcement of the council being granted the Dreamland CPO, we are confident that these two wards will get back on the map and become desirable locations where people want to live and invest in.”
KCC Cabinet Member for Customer and Communities Mike Hill, said: “We recognise the real need to help these areas and a major boost to the housing market there will make improvements for residents and the local economy. Our commitment to regeneration in Margate can be seen by the creation of the Turner Contemporary gallery and the significant effect it is already having on local businesses, tourism and residents’ sense of pride in living there. Through this project we will be working closely alongside Thanet District Council to tackle the issues faced in Cliftonville West and Margate Central and create a brighter future for its residents.”
The next steps will be to identify and acquire empty properties to start refurbishing and let as affordable social housing.
The Margate Task Force is a multi-agency programme focussed in the two wards of Margate Central and Cliftonville West which brings together a range of interventions including housing, health, employment working to bring about positive impact and outcomes in local communities.