A Plymouth resident is breathing new life into the old post office he used to buy sweets from as a child and turning it into two new homes with help from the Council.
The old post office at The Quay in Oreston has been empty for over 20 years but Steve Cooke is rebuilding the property along with his wife Helene with support from Plymouth City Council. The exact age of the property is not known but it is believed to date back to the early 1900s.
Steve said: “I used to go to the post office in the late 1950s/early 1960s with my grandparents to buy sweets.
“I’m really pleased that we’re finally able to bring it back into use as it’s been a big project and there have been a few stumbling blocks along the way – we’ve had the property since 2012.
“We originally had planning permission to return the long term empty building to use by converting it in to two new flats but half way through the project the original structure was deemed unsafe and had to be demolished, meaning we had to start the whole thing again from scratch.
“We reapplied and secured planning permission to erect two new flats in place of the old building, however, after the extensive delay and financial setbacks this caused, we were left in a difficult situation and in need of a bit of help to finish the job.”
Plymouth City Council launched the #EmptyHomesPlym campaign in October 2017 to help make empty home owners aware of the schemes and incentives available to assist owners in bringing some of the city’s 700 empty properties back into use.
Steve and Helene applied to Plymouth City Council under the new property financial assistance scheme, which offers owners interest free loans of up to £50,000 to help return their long term empty properties to use.
Helene said: “The application was simple and straightforward and the Council were really supportive throughout.”
Councillor Steve Ricketts, Cabinet Member for Transport and Housing Delivery said: “We are committed to bringing as many empty properties in the city back into use as possible and I am delighted that Steve and Helene Cooke are able to move forward with this ambitious rebuild of the old post office in Orestone.
“Every year empty homes collectively lose their owners around £5.4million in lost rental income across Plymouth, they are an eyesore, attract anti-social behaviour and can also devalue neighbouring properties by up to 20 per cent. But with the help and support we are able to offer, there really should be no excuse for leaving a property empty in the city.”
For more information visit www.plymouth.gov.uk/emptyhomes or search #EmptyHomesPlym on Twitter or Facebook.