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Friday, 31 October 2014

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Scheme to improve deprived part of Barrow receives ‘good support’

A MASTERPLAN has been submitted to revitalise a deprived Barrow neighbourhood and attract residents to vastly under-occupied flats.

The £1m vision for the regeneration of part of Barrow Island has been lodged following two consultation sessions with the community.

The design has been drawn-up by Farrer Huxley Associates and James Smith, the team selected by Barrow Borough Council to lead the project after £1m was secured from the government’s Clusters of Empty Homes Fund.

The application is for stage-one of the project and entails improving the central courtyard area bordered by Brig Street and Barque Street. If permission is granted, it will involve landscaping, new lighting in the central courtyard and a significant amount of planting.

The design team is seeking an extra £650,000 in funding for phase two, which would involve work on the surrounding streets. An artistic feature is also to be fitted on the Island Road/Michaelson Road roundabout as part of the aim to improve first impressions of the neighbourhood.

Around only 90 of the 460 privately-owned flats are occupied. It is hoped that improving the neighbourhood can act as a stimulus to attract new tenants.

Noel Farrer, director of Farrer Huxley Associates, said: “The consultation has gone very well. We had really good support for the scheme and we’ve therefore put that in for planning, exactly in line with what the residents have asked for. We understand the element of scepticism among some people and the mountain that needs to be climbed, because they have watched the area deteriorate over the years. But this is the beginning of the change and we need people to embrace that, acknowledge that and work together.

“Consultation shows many people on Barrow Island started off living in the flats. By making the area more desirable, you can re-occupy those flats and they become a place where people want to live.

“It’s the stimulation of a future generation, and that’s why this scheme is so important. And that’s why the flats are so important. We must not give up hope on the flats.”

The plan involves creating a restricted parking zone for residents only. Parking spaces would fall from 146 to 98.

Councillor Alison Johnston, who represents Barrow Island on the borough council, has been involved in the process. She said: “Anything that can be done in that area has to be a bonus.

“There’s a huge problem with refuse bins and litter being strewn, but it will tidy it all up with bin stores and hopefully more residents will want to live in the area. That central area is being used as a boat yard, a caravan yard, a dump-your-car yard; that's all going to get landscaped, have pathways and become somewhere nice to sit.

“They are taking some of the parking bays out because they’re not being used, the flats are so under-occupied. What can I say, other than I completely agree and hope it’s going to be a massive bonus for Barrow Island, along with the flats being sold to a new landlord and the work that BAE are doing.”

l Turn to page seven for more Barrow Island regeneration news.

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