Plymouth City Council has today announced plans for a further £500,000 fund to tackle the blight of empty homes, as a long term derelict space above a city centre jewellers becomes a new home.
The announcement comes during National Empty Homes Week (23 – 27 September) which aims to highlight the importance of bringing empty homes back into use. Long term empty properties can attract vandalism, vermin, and devalue neighbouring properties by up to 20 per cent.
The empty property above Warren James jewellers is now ready to let after a major refurbishment, thanks to joint work by the Council, Warren James, and leaseholders Parman Group Ltd. The landlords were recipients of the Council’s previous Financial Assistance scheme that aimed to help landlords bring long term empty properties back into use.
Councillor Chris Penberthy, Cabinet Member for Housing and Co-operative Development, said: “It is fantastic to see this prime city centre location now available as a quality home after it had been empty for five years.
“Empty properties are a wasted housing resource, often causing distress to those living nearby. They are a magnet for anti-social and illegal activity, which is why the Council has a team of officers who tackle this important issue. This year we are pleased to announce our intention to make a further £500,000 of funds available from the Council’s Plan for Homes budget. This money will be used to make loans available to owners of long term empty properties, enabling them to renovate or convert their empty properties to a standard ready to occupy.”
Over the last couple of years the Council’s Empty Homes Financial Assistance has funded the delivery of 25 good quality homes through its original Financial Assistance Scheme, from previously vacant property, providing much needed accommodation for those in housing need and improving the quality of the city’s built environment.
The empty commercial space above Warren James Jewellers, New George Street benefitted from the first tranche of Empty Homes Financial Assistance – to support the creation of three high quality, spacious flats.
These flats are now complete and will be available for let shortly. The transformation is helping the Council’s ambition to breathe new life into empty spaces, rejuvenate the City Centre and bring a new community to the area.
The scheme has been delivered in partnership with the Landlords Robin and Carole Reip (of the Parman Group Ltd) who spoke of the support they had received from the Council. Robin said: “Without Plymouth City Council’s involvement, this could never have happened – from its concept, the planning process and the assistance we received, the council has been helpful and co-operative throughout. Our tenant Warren James the Jewellers have also been supportive and it would be good to think this is the start of other developers changing the face of the centre of the city.”
The Council is always on hand to offer advice and support for both empty property owners and those affected by them. If you need to contact the Council about an empty home the number to call is 01752 304235.
Find out more about support for landlords of empty properties:
Before pictures (taken in October 2018 before the refurbishment):