Leazes Homes and Newcastle City Council restore 19th century properties to former glory
Chair of Leazes Homes, Bill Midgley and Leader of Newcastle City Council, Cllr Nick Forbes, outside Summerhill apartments
Affordable housing provider, Leazes Homes, has worked with Esh Property Services to bring two significant buildings back into use in the Summerhill conservation area of Newcastle.
The properties, now known as Summerhill Apartments, are situated on the extremely well-located Westgate Road, date from the early-mid 19th
century and had been derelict for years.
They were previously owned by Newcastle City Council, who transferred ownership to Leazes Homes in March 2014 on the understanding that they would be brought back into use and breathe new life into the popular conservation area.
One of the buildings is Grade II Listed and dates from around 1820, with both appearing on the first edition Ordnance Survey map of 1879. Both properties contain numerous original features, including stained glass windows, coving, ceiling roses, fire places, decorative pillars, doors and door frames – all of which have been thoroughly respected in the renovations.
The properties have been developed to provide one and two bedroom flats, with smaller properties being more beneficial due to the government’s “bedroom tax”.
Chair of Leazes Homes, Bill Midgley said: “This renovation project truly is a win, win situation for Leazes Homes, Newcastle City Council and local residents. Once beautiful, privately-owned homes, the two buildings had certainly lost some of their charm in recent years and were no longer adding anything to the area.
Chair of Leazes Homes, Bill Midgley, Manager of the Friends of Summerhill, Hugh Stolliday, Leader of Newcastle City Council, Cllr Nick Forbes and Esh Property Services Contract Manager, Chris Parker pictured in the new orchard,
“Now this grand architecture has been restored and made more secure, with anti-social behaviour in the area reducing as a result.
“We’re grateful to Newcastle City Council for allowing us to develop these beautiful buildings and have been very impressed by Esh Property Services, who have not only respected their unique aspects but have also included beautiful landscaped gardens. We also appreciate the interest they have taken in understanding the concerns and wishes of the local community.
“For us to be able to bring any empty properties back into use as desirable homes, which we do regularly, is very positive news indeed – but these two buildings are particularly special.”
As part of the redevelopment, Newcastle City Council gave the Friends of Summerhill Bowling Club, which backs onto the properties, a section of one of their gardens. This is being made into a community orchard and accessible garden, which includes bee hives.
One of the finished Summerhill Apartment blocks
Leader of Newcastle City Council, Cllr Nick Forbes, said: “This development has been a long time coming and it was so important for us to return such impressive properties to their former glory – knocking down the old buildings wouldn’t have been appropriate and it was vital that these assets weren’t lost to local people.
“I’m pleased to see these homes brought back into use and contributing to the housing mix in this popular part of the city – they are obviously lovely places for individuals to live but, just as importantly, they also benefit the wider community.
“It’s pertinent that The Friends of Summerhill will be benefitting from the additional garden space too – communities coming together to protect our heritage and breathe new life into buildings is an ongoing theme in this area, and one I hope we all continue.
“These buildings are quite clearly our history but in working to bring them back into use we show just what we want to achieve in Newcastle. On Westgate Road we are building on our roots, proving families with affordable homes and investing in our city.”
A public consultation event was held in advance of the planning application and local residents were thrilled to learn that the buildings, which were a rather unattractive part of the picturesque conservation area, were to be brought back into use and restored.
Leader of Newcastle City Council, Cllr Nick Forbes and Chair of Leazes Homes, Bill Midgley inside one of the properties
The event was well attended by local residents and community groups who were able to talk to representatives from the contractors, Esh Property Services, the Architects, IDP Partnership, Your Homes Newcastle and staff from Newcastle City Council’s planning department, including the Historical Buildings Officer, who were all involved in planning the refurbishment.
Hugh Stolliday, Manager of the Friends of Summerhill, who hosted the official launch of the new Summerhill Apartments, said: “As a community group we’re very pleased to have a new type of housing in the immediate surrounding area and we hope this might mean more younger people might like to get involved here at the Bowling Club.
“Before the renovation the buildings were an eyesore and could be a target for anti-social behaviour but they have been sympathetically updated and are very in-keeping with this conservation area.
“We’re also thrilled to have been given some garden space for our new orchard as this will really help us to expand our gardening operations – we’ve already started working with the Newcastle and District Beekeepers’ Association who have some hives there and we look forward to working with many more members of the community!”
Click here for pictures from before and after the renovation.