Aldcliffe Yard

Aldcliffe Yard is an award-winning development of custom build houses and refurbished homes located in a British Waterways conservation area in central Lancaster.

About this project

Featuring eight brand new three and four-bedroom custom build homes together with six refurbished listed buildings, Aldcliffe Yard sits in a former British Waterways office and yard in the heart of Lancaster. The development includes one detached, two semi-detached and five new terraced properties, making this the first terraced custom-build scheme to be delivered in the UK. In addition, six refurbished homes were created from heritage canal-side buildings.

Masterminded by H2O Urban, a joint venture between private property developer Bloc and charity the Canal and River Trust, profits from the development will be reinvested to maintain waterways across Britain for future generations.

Located within a conservation area alongside the Lancaster Canal, the first owners moved into Aldcliffe Yard in 2015. In 2016 the scheme was awarded a Lancaster District Design Award by Lancaster Civic Society and in 2017, it was named Best Housing Scheme (fewer than 500 homes) in The Planning Awards.

Use of timber

The local planning department gave clear specifications about the materials to be used and the footprint of the buildings, to ensure that the new properties remained sympathetic to the local surroundings. To meet these requirements, the homes were built with natural stone walls, timber cladding, slate roofs and timber sash windows.

The custom build homes were built using timber frame, enabling fast and cost-effective construction. During the design phase, buyers were able to move internal walls to create kitchen-diners or to add or remove en-suite bathrooms. Carpets and hardwood flooring upgrades were also on offer and buyers could also choose kitchen and bathroom design, layout, fixtures and fittings.

The benefits of custom build

Custom build properties provide a half-way house between self-build and buying off plan. They offer more flexibility over layout and fittings than with a regular new home, but without the greater risks and responsibilities of traditional self-build.

Under the custom build model, all of the tough planning work is already done for the buyers, so it’s quite easy for a buyer to quickly assess what they can and can’t do with the plot. However, both self and custom build schemes are well suited to areas where planning is less stringent, to enable people to fully express their designs.

Usually, buyers will have the option to change the footprint of the new home. In the case of Aldcliffe Yard, however, due to planning considerations and restrictions, homeowners were only able to make changes to the inside of their properties.

Further information

Right to Build portal

Canal River Trust

H2O Urban 

Key contacts


H2O Urban & Canal and River Trust



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