KENT COUNTY COUNCIL’S ‘NO USE EMPTY’ SCHEME ON COURSE FOR RECORD YEAR
To mark National Empty Homes Week, KCC announces up to 650 empties will be returned to use in current financial year No Use Empty, the initiative to return empty properties to use led by Kent County Council, marks National Empty Homes Week by announcing that it is on course to create 650 new homes in 2014 – 2015, a new record.
The scheme, run in partnership with twelve local authorities across the county, is widely regarded as the UK’s most successful empty homes initiative, returning 611 empty homes to use in 2013 – 2014, and 512 in 2012 – 2013. Launched in 2005, No Use Empty has returned over 3,500 empty homes to date, reducing the total number of empty homes in Kent to around 5,840.
The initiative was the first in the UK to offer financial assistance to owners willing to refurbish properties empty for over 6 months, and return them to use. The No Use Empty Loan Find administered by KCC, offers up to £25,000 in interest-free funding per housing unit created, to a maximum of £175,000. The loans, repayable in three-years and recycled back into the Fund, total £11.7M to date.
Earlier this year, No Use Empty launched a spin-off Affordable Homes initiative , in partnership with social housing provider AmicusHorizon. Under the new initiative, loans of up to £250k per project are available, on the basis that units are available for affordable rent, at 80% market value. Under the terms of the Loan AmicusHorizon manage the properties and guarantee the rental income for a period of five years, meaning that large scale projects delivering a number of units are more financially viable for individuals and small developers.
NUE is on course to meet its target of 45 affordable units by the end of the financial year, unlocking £795,000 of funding from the Homes and Communities Agency.
National Empty Homes Week is organised by charity Empty Homes and runs from 1 to 5 December 2014.
Mark Dance, Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said
“The charity Empty Homes who have been extremely supportive of No Use Empty, and we in turn are huge advocates of Empty Homes Week, and the work it does to encourage action on long-term empty properties.
This year is on course to be a record year for No Use Empty, which is testament to the hard work and ingenuity of the team, drawn from 12 local authorities, in finding new and efficient means of tackling the problem. “The initiative is primarily about delivering much needed new homes, but there are significant wider benefits. Returning these properties to use encourages investment into the surrounding area, safeguard the value of other occupied properties and help reduce crime and anti-social behaviour, The impact of No Use Empty should not be measured in number of units alone.”