The Brewery Project

Floor plans
Former Hartley's Brewery - Architects' plans for accommodation in the towers and one very old industrial building.

Public Statement regarding sale of former Hartleys Brewery

In June 2019 Homes for Ulverston (H4US) reached agreement with Frederic Robinson Ltd to buy the site and derelict buildings of the Old Brewery in Ulverston. H4US has had an exclusivity agreement for a period of time and undertook on trust, on the insistence of Frederic Robinson Ltd, to refrain from publicising its plans for the Brewery, or any other information about the intended purchase, to anyone other than members.

H4US, a non-profit Community Land Trust, has developed an ambitious project to restore the buildings and at the same time provide genuinely affordable homes for local people. The restoration would be of the highest environmental and heritage standard and incorporate local labour and materials, self-build opportunities, training in heritage skills, allotments and public gardens. It would also protect Ulverston’s precarious conservation status.

Funding would be provided by means of grants from government and heritage bodies, a mortgage and the sale of some properties at market value. £105,000 of SLDC affordable-homes grant money has already been spent on surveys and architects’ plans.

On 14 August 2020, H4US was informed by its architects that the site had been sold to another buyer. The publicity embargo therefore no longer stands and H4US can now tell its story.

It is now 12 months since Homes England, “the government’s housing accelerator”, gave the green light to the project. However, no funds have been forthcoming, despite all H4US efforts (two online applications and a 25-page Business Plan with 29 Appendices). And all Homes England activity is now suspended until October because of the pandemic.

However, though H4US can understand Robinson’s frustration with the delays we are still shocked and deeply saddened by this turn of events, as are the project’s local supporters and backers who strongly backed the project.

H4US has contacted the purchaser, Matthew Mayvers of Caterkwik, to discuss next steps. We understand that our architects were approached to ask if they could deliver our plans for him.

H4US would be pleased to discuss how the months’ of planning and work and the substantial financial outlay (in excess of £105K) already made can still benefit Ulverston and its communities. We note that as a community land trust we are able to access funding streams which cannot be accessed by private developers, which was how our scheme was going to enable both a beautiful and genuinely innovative housing scheme for those on lower incomes.

H4US would be delighted to buy the complex from Mr. Mayvers.

What?

Homes for Ulverston’s Brewery Project plans to build 32 homes on a site of unique historical interest, restoring existing buildings to Heritage England standard.

The tenure mix shall be:

  • long-term affordable rented
  • owner-occupied, generating cross-subsidy capital
  • shared ownership, combined with rent-to-buy option in most cases

There is scope for, potentially, 32 homes. The site lends itself to:

  • 8 x 3 bedroom house
  • 11 x 2 bedroom house
  • 5 x 1 bedroom house
  • 2 x 1 bedroom duplex
  • 1 x 2 bedroom duplex
  • 1 x studio apartment
  • 4 x one bedroom apartment

How?

Delivered by H4US (Homes For Ulverston CLT Ltd) with professional support and with public funding, Local Authority support and advice. H4US is a member of the National CLT Network and Locality UK.

When?

The Brewery Project has completed its feasibility stage. H4US is ready to exchange contracts and submit a detailed planning application. Feedback from Development Control at South Lakeland District Council has been favourable and there is political support to see this site successfully transformed for affordable dwellings, with no risk to the area’s conservation area status.

Why?

Ulverston residents earning average salaries have difficulty competing for dwellings, especially lower quartile first homes and family homes because private landlords are able to let to contractors working at the Barrow-in-Furness shipbuilding facility.

The growing number of holiday lets also puts pressure on young people able to pay a mortgage but unable to save for a deposit as rents are high.

Whereas commercial developers are reluctant to build affordable homes, 60% of the dwellings planned for the Brewery site will be affordable.

Ulverston trades on being an old market town. It helps attract businesses and people. Our Conservation Area rules help to keep the historical features that make it so attractive. Ulverston’s conservation area has suffered an erosion of standards and we could lose it. An unsympathetic development at the Brewery could see us without a conservation area, which would soon lead to lower standards of materials and design.

Viability

H4US has commissioned several surveys to test the practical feasibility of the project.

The initial piece of work was a structural survey of the historical buildings by Charles Blackett-Ord of Blackett-Ord Conservation Engineers. He and his team visited the site with Alan Parry-Davies, architect with Halliday Meecham Architects Ltd and after an initial tour, undertook a detailed survey.

Both the structural survey, QS costings and additional costings from a specialist conservation QS, show that the Brewery Project would be deliverable, for the submitted costs, in terms of construction.

The draft plan assumed restoration was not only possible, but relatively straightforward, the buildings being of solid construction. The “need” to demolish can be a matter of opinion. Many historic towns owe their appealing character to thoughtful preservation, conservation and restoration. Many buildings can be stabilised and H4US initial assumption was borne out once engineers were allowed on the site.

Supporting documents (click to download as PDFs):

Brewery site layout
Former Hartley's Brewery - Architects' drawing of whole site - aerial view.