Renovation for 200 empty terraced homes in Accrington

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Media captionThere are thought to be 850,000 empty homes in the UK

Work has begun on a £14m plan to restore 200 empty Lancashire homes.

Five streets of terraced houses will be renovated and remodelled in the scheme involving a developer, council and social housing landlord.

Some of the traditional "two-up, two-down" houses in the Woodnook area of Accrington will be knocked through to become four-bedroom family homes.

A recent survey by charity Empty Homes showed Lancashire had the highest percentage of vacant homes - one in 20.

Woodnook was one of the areas left in limbo when the coalition government ended the Pathfinder Housing Market Renewal scheme in 2010.

Most of the residents had already moved out before the funding ended and the local authority had to rethink plans for a large-scale demolition programme.

'More appropriate'

Deputy leader of Hyndburn Council Claire Prichard said: "We're grateful that outside partners have come in and worked for us to do the best for these neighbourhoods."

Image caption Some of the terraced houses will be knocked through

David Smith-Milne, managing director of developer PlaceFirst, said the plan was to retain the shell of the houses and remodel the internal structure including knocking through some of the houses to make them larger.

"At the moment many of the properties are simply too small to cope with families with more than one child, so we will create a mix of two, three and four bedroomed properties," he said.

"They will be much more appropriate to the needs of families."

The Empty Homes survey showed almost 3,000 properties (7.36%) are empty in neighbouring Burnley, with Lancashire the county that has the highest percentage of vacant properties in England, with one in 20 houses empty (4.81%).

Hyndburn (7.03%), Pendle (6.43%) and Blackburn with Darwen (5.80%) also have high numbers of empty properties.

The first families are expected to move into the new Accrington homes in the summer of 2014.

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