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Friday, 25 July 2014

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£30m investment leaves Carlisle estate's bad old days in past

Hundreds more homes are being built to further transform an estate once branded one of Britain’s worst places to live.

Raffles photo
Site manager Angela Metcalfe, left, and quantity surveyor Wendy Gibson

Raffles in Carlisle was, at its lowest, a no-go area for house-hunters – notorious for trouble and its boarded-up, empty, derelict homes.

But The Cumberland News can reveal that crime has plummeted and a developer that’s already invested in excess of £30 million in revitalising the area is prepared for another major investment as its rejuvenation continues.

It’s 10 years since the Raffles Vision to rejuvenate the estate was unveiled, detailing a major house-building plan designed to rid residents of their tarnished reputation and give huge chunks of the area a new look.

Supporters hoped it would back efforts to cut crime and disorder that at one point saw cars burned out and firefighters stoned as they tackled emergency calls – something they say has been done.

Comparing now against 2003, overall crime is down 13 per cent – with criminal damage dropping by half.

Developer Lovell, which has been leading Raffles’ building boom with Carlisle City Council, is closing in on completing its 270th home, transforming areas including Sheehan Crescent, Heysham Park, Thomlinson Avenue and Brookside which were once blighted by boarded-up and vandalised properties.

Its builders are gearing up to start constructing another 102 homes – 58 of them for social landlord Riverside and the rest for sale on the open market – later this year, with work centred on Thomlinson and Dalton Avenues.

And they’re still planning two further building phases, building another 145 homes from 2016 onwards. An average of 60 people have been employed building on the estate at any time over the past decade.

Work at Raffles is being hailed as Carlisle’s major regeneration success – turning the area from one where few wanted to live to one that is considered up-and-coming.

Angela Metcalfe, Lovell’s site manager, said: “It’s always a pleasure to drive to work and see how well the area now looks.

“The mood of the estate has changed.

“The people who live here now clearly like to live here and that’s reflected in the pride they take in looking after the neighbourhood and keeping it clean and tidy.”

Quantity surveyor Wendy Gibson added: “We’re proud of our involvement in the estate. It’s rewarding to be involved in this kind of wide-ranging regeneration and we very much look forward to starting the latest phase of new housing.”

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