One of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) key aims is to maintain a supply of affordable homes. With thousands of homes and properties lying empty across England, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) decided that Housing Associations, Local Authorities, Charities and Community Groups have a leading role to play in tackling the issue of empty homes blighting our communities.
The DCLG has allocated over £100m funding to address this issue. Every part of the country is set to benefit, and the DCLG, through their appointed administrators Tribal Education Ltd, will work closely with local partners to maximise the allocations and deliver value for money in those areas where the need is greatest. £30m was specifically allocated to charities and community groups who could apply for a share of this funding to carry out projects specific to their local areas. Methodist Action North West Ltd was successful on two separate occasions to secure some of this funding to help bring Empty Homes back into use in the local authority areas of Preston City Council, South Ribble Borough Council and Lancaster City Council.
These funds provide interest free loans to assist property owners to carry out improvement works and bring the property back into use. The property should have been empty for at least two years. Once the property is ready to occupy it will be managed by Methodist Action, A Place to Live for 10 years.
Improvement works are specified by A Place to Live surveyor and carried out in partnership with local contractors to deliver a property which will meet "Decent Homes Standards".
The partnership works with the relevant local authorities in Preston, South Ribble and Lancaster who identify eligible properties and support the partnership to deliver the target number of properties. In the initial programme phase it is proposed to bring around 80 properties back into use which will provide at least 215 bedroom spaces.
Below are real examples of properties that have been brought back into use by Methodist Action under the Empty Homes Programme.
This was a large, privately owned Georgian terraced property in a Conservation Area which had become a priority for the local authority to bring back into use. It had been empty for over seven years and had been systematically vandalised internally and externally. Due to the excessive construction costs involved, the Empty Homes Programme funding enabled the owner to raise the additional finance to complete the works within three months. This property now provides two 2 bedroom and two 1 bedroom self-contained flats in an historic building close to the city centre at an affordable rent.
These photos show Property 1 as found.
These photos show property 1 after refurbishment.
This example consisted of two existing self-contained flats above a retail premises which had been empty for over two years and suffering from water ingress. The Empty Homes Programme funded the majority of the works and helped to contribute towards roof and external repairs. The interiors of the flats were completely refurbished including new kitchens and bathrooms. These have now brought two flats back into use for local people to rent affordably, and meet a real need for smaller accommodation units in the area.
These photos show Property 2 before work commenced.
These photos show Property 2 on completion.
This was a large terraced property which had been empty since fire damaged the property approximately two years prior to Methodist Action involvement. As part of the Empty Homes Programme, Methodist Action were able to secure Planning and Building Regulations approval for a conversion of the property into one 1 bedroom and 1 two bedroom flats. This also included works to repairs the roofs, dormer window and chimneys. The property is now transformed and provides contemporary accommodation at affordable rent.
These photos shows Property 3 as found.
These photos shows Property 3 close to completion of work.
This was a typical terraced house which had been purchased in a poor condition and required the Empty Homes Programme funding to bring it back to Decent Homes Standard. As with many of the empty homes properties, damp and water ingress was a major issue which involved works to the roofs, roof timbers and stonework to make it watertight. The photographs illustrate the works during the construction process.
These photos show work in progress at Property 4.
This was a public house and adjoining stables which had become disused, closed and empty for over nine years. The owner was attempting to convert it into flats and houses as the area was predominantly residential, and the Empty Homes Programme facilitated the commencement of the project by providing guaranteed part funding which encouraged further private investment. The provision of a lettings management option upon completion of the project also took all the responsibility off the owner to find tenants and manage the property at the end – a ‘one stop shop’ service. The final scheme now provides a mixture of one and two bed flats in the main block, and one & two bed houses accessed off a shared courtyard.
These photos show Property 5 as found.
These photos show property 5 after refurbishment.