UK's most successful empty home scheme celebrates milestone
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Development, Housing
Empty homeImage: Empty home via Shutterstock
A council's long-running empty homes scheme has now brought a landmark 3,027 properties back into use.
Launched in 2005, Kent County Council's No Use Empty (NUE) initiative has this year returned a record 600 long-term vacant homes to use, and is now the most successful such sheme in the UK.
Over the course of 2013, the council has approved loans totalling £2.5 million, making it a record year for investment. The scheme has now received a total investment of £25m, a third coming from the council's empty homes loan fund and two thirds from owners and developers. To date, the scheme has delivered new homes at a cost of just over £8,000 per unit, a fraction of the cost of new-build properties.
The 3,000 home milestone is particularly significant as it means NUE has successfully tackled a third of the homes that stood empty when the initiative was launched.
Mark Dance, the council’s cabinet member for economic development, said: “Empty and unused properties can depreciate the value of adjacent properties by up to 18%, so this is an issue that goes way beyond bricks-and-mortar and impacts the wider social and economic wellbeing of an area. No Use Empty has created 3,000 new homes to date, which not only represents a great return on investment, it has had a pronounced regenerative impact on some of the County’s more deprived areas.”
Steve Grimshaw, NUE's regeneration project manager, said: “Returning a third of the homes that lay empty when we launched the scheme in 2005 is a significant marker for us. This has been a bumper year for No Use Empty, as we have launched our affordable homes partnership with Amicus Horizon, as well as issuing our biggest loan to date, which shows the initiative is evolving whilst still achieving its goals. We are always looking for new projects to undertake so urge owners of empty properties to get in touch.”