Specialist residential rental developer Placefirst is proudly celebrating winning two national awards at the Sunday Times British Homes Awards Ceremony held last week.

West End One, Morecambe was awarded Best Refurbishment/Conversion of the Year, with Woodnook, Accrington receiving a Highly Commended Award in the Outstanding Placemaking category.

The Sunday Times British Homes Awards, held on Thursday in London, recognise the talent, effort and innovation of developers, architects, designers, affordable housing providers working across the UKs residential property sector.

Placefirst designs, develops, builds, owns and manages a series of ‘neighbourhoods’ across the North West aimed at offering a true alternative to buying a home, providing exceptional properties for rent.

David Smith-Milne, managing director of Placefirst, said:

“Morecambe and Accrington were of our very first developments and they have set the standard for future projects.

“We are thrilled that our efforts to create homes, unlike anything else in the rental sector, have been recognised on a national level by these awards.”

West End One in Morecambe saw an entire block of Victorian guesthouses transformed, retaining original Victorian features whilst bringing the new homes into the 21st century with modern, open plan layouts.

The bright, spacious homes and apartments are gathered around an attractively landscaped central courtyard. Inside the best features, such as high ceilings, large bay windows and ornate architectural details, have been retained. Placefirst has gone on to add high quality, energy efficient doors, windows and insulation, bespoke bathrooms and kitchens, with state of the art connectivity as standard.

Residents are even invited to choose their own colour schemes and kitchen units, which is exceptionally rare within the rental market.

David said: “If a resident agrees to move into one of our properties six weeks before we finish building their new home, they are able to choose their own interior finishes. We want people living here to make their homes their own, and this is our way of helping that happen.”

The Woodnook development, in Accrington, was highly recommended in the Outstanding Placemaking category. Placemaking is the planning, design and management of public space, which focuses on the community and potential of outdoor space to promote well-being.

“At the heart of the Woodnook development is a new village square and a park – open spaces for getting together, playing out and enjoying the sunshine, which is all within easy walk of shops, schools and public transport,” said David.

Placefirst created the Accrington neighbourhood of contemporary family homes by transforming three streets of Victorian terraced houses.

David said: “Essentially we aspire to create fantastic homes for real people choosing rental properties over purchasing. These awards, judged by our peers, are enormous recognition of the time, efforts and sensitive approach to each of our projects.”

As well the award-winning developments in Accrington and Morecambe, Placefirst is also creating new neighbourhoods in Liverpool and Hartlepool, and will be launching its first development in Leeds in early October. Several other developments are also planned across the north of England.

Both West End One and Woodnook were delivered in partnership with local authorities and Placefirst were joined at the awards by senior officers Tom Brown and Sarah Whittaker.

Sarah Whittaker of Hyndburn Council said:

“To see these fantastic homes recognised for their excellence is a true testament to how hard everyone involved has worked. These are genuine, quality homes, created for local people as a true alternative to purchasing their own property and it was a real privilege to see their success recognised.”

The British Homes Awards are judged by an independent panel of designers, developers and industry experts.

Chair of the awards, Teresa Borsuk, explained why they are so important: “Awards are now an essential part of business. They raise the bar, promoting the excellent over the adequate. That’s why they matter.”

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