Preston’s Making Homes from Houses Scheme has more success

The theme for Empty Homes Week 2024 is ‘Powers in Action’, demonstrating the powers local authorities have to bring empty properties back into use.

The Making Homes from Houses scheme is a collaboration between Preston City Council, Homes England and partners, Community Gateway Association.   It turns long term empty dwellings into homes, transforming them through renovation and refurbishment.

So far, 36 properties in Preston have already been refurbished and returned to family homes as part of the project, having been empty for a total of 157 years. Fourteen more empty dwellings are currently being renovated or in the process of legal completion, in readiness to receive the same attention.

Councillor Jennifer Mein, Cabinet member for health and wellbeing, at Preston City Council, said: “This brilliant and innovative scheme has already gained national recognition and continues to do so, with officers presenting at the Empty Homes Network event this summer.

“Empty properties can have a negative impact on communities. By bringing empty homes back into use, an area’s appearance can be greatly improved and boost people's confidence in their neighbourhood.

“There is currently a shortage of satisfactory affordable housing across the country, not just Preston. Your empty property could be a new home for a person in housing need, a young family looking for their first home or an older person looking to downsize.

“Re-using your empty property could also save you money. Keeping a property empty can cost almost £8,000 a year. If there’s an empty property near you, get in touch with the council to see what can be done.”

Council committed funds are now at £1.6m, which is expected to result in a total of £9.3m of investment and an estimated 52 new affordable rented homes altogether.

The additional investment is largely from Community Gateway, who will own the properties, plus grants from Homes England. Once refurbished, these properties are made available to people in housing need who are either homeless or on the housing waiting list and eligible for such properties.

So far, £940,000 has been invested by the Council, using S106 developer contributions, with a total of £4.2m being spent to deliver the thirty-six affordable rented homes.

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