Preston City Council’s Empty Homes Team have been recognised by the national Empty Homes Network, winning two awards and receiving a highly commended in a third category.
Making Homes from Houses project is a collaboration between Preston City Council, Homes England and partners, Community Gateway Association, to turn empty dwellings into homes by transforming through renovation and refurbishment.
So far, 22 properties in Preston have already been refurbished and returned to family homes as part of the project, having been empty for a total of 78 years, with more empty dwellings in the process of being purchased or are in the process of legal completion, in readiness to receive the same attention.
The successful team won awards for Best Partnership and Best Before and After Photograph, receiving a highly commended award in Meeting the Challenge in The EHN Empty Homes Awards 2022.
Councillor David Borrow, Cabinet member for planning and regulation at Preston City Council, said,
“I’m delighted this priority project is now receiving national recognition, following its success in Preston in the last few years. I’d like to send my congratulations on these awards, as well as my thanks to the officers involved for their hard work and dedication to the scheme, alongside those at our partner agencies.
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 home can also save you money. Keeping your property empty can cost you nearly £8,000 a year. If there’s an empty property near you, get in touch with the council to see what can be done.”
Stephen Galbraith, Development Manager at Community Gateway Association, added,
“We are delighted to have been awarded two awards for the Making Homes from Houses Project, working in Partnership with Preston City Council and supported by Homes England.
Through this partnership we have been able to refurbish homes that have been left empty into much-needed affordable homes for those with the greatest housing need. By bringing these run-down homes up to scratch, not only are we improving the appearance of our neighbourhoods, but we are also helping to combat anti-social behaviour.
We look forward to continuing our excellent working relationship with Preston City Council to deliver many more homes.”
The Empty Homes Network said of Preston City Council and Community Gateway Association,
“By providing a holistic solution for empty homeowners across the city, the partnership formed by Preston City Council and Community Gateway Association through their Making Homes from Houses initiative, should be seen as a benchmark for local authorities aiming to set up or develop similar partnerships across the country.
By showing the tenacity and commitment in finding a solution for all parties involved, Preston City Council and Community Gateway Association have been able to bring a detrimental property back into use, but also increase their housing stock for local families on waiting lists.
Unperturbed by seemingly endless delays in the sale process, the team and their strength of partnership ensured that this case would not be pushed aside and this should be rewarded through our Partnership Award.”
So far, £670,000 has been invested by the Council, using S106 developer contributions, with a total of £3.9m being spent to deliver the 22 affordable rented homes.
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. Once refurbished, these properties are made available to people in housing need – either homeless or those on the housing waiting list and eligible for such properties.