It’s a gem! Empty space above Plymouth jewellers converted into homes


Councillor Penberthy with Carole and Robin Reip and Nicola Daniel from the Council’s Housing team, stood at the back of the Warren James property.

The upstairs of a Plymouth jewellers is being brought into use after being empty for five years.

With support from Plymouth City Council, the upstairs first and second floors of Warren James jewellers are being converted into three flats working with leaseholders the Parman Group Ltd.

It’s all part of the Council’s work to bring more empty homes in the city back into use, as we mark national Empty Homes Week (15 – 21 October 2018). Since last year’s Empty Homes Week the Council has brought 71 homes back into use.

Councillor Penberthy with Robin and Carole Reip and Nicola outside the front of Warren James the jewellers.

Councillor Chris Penberthy said: “I am delighted that these flats are going to be available to live in.

“It has been brought back into use with the help of the Council’s Financial Assistance Scheme which provides loans and grants to empty home owners.

“Schemes like this help to rejuvenate our city centre, breathing new life into empty spaces and bringing new residential communities into the area. In addition, converting an empty space above a commercial unit into residential accommodation makes economic sense and can provide surveillance and security for your business. In some cases you may not need planning permission and also be eligible for a reduction rate of VAT on building materials and services.

“We are very keen to bring as many empty homes in the city back into use as possible. There are currently around 750 empty homes in Plymouth. They are a wasted resource, and empty home owners could be losing up to £10,000 per year in rent. Long term empty homes are a particular issue as they can be subject to vandalism and anti-social behaviour, as well as reducing the value of neighbouring properties by up to 20 per cent.”

Landlords Robin and Carole Reip (of the Parman Group Ltd) 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 cooperative 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.”

One of the rooms on the top floor of the Warren James building.

For information on support that’s available from Plymouth City Council to bring empty properties back into use, visit www.plymouth.gov.uk/emptyhomes or like the Empty Homes Facebook page at www.facebook.com/emptyhomesplymouth

The Council also runs an Empty Homes Surgery at the 1st Stop in New George Street on the first Wednesday of every month from 10am to 2pm. This surgery is available for empty home owners to come and ask for advice and support, or for anyone who is aware of a long term empty property in their area to speak to the council about it.

View from the top – the three flats are just above Warren James right in the city centre.