Latest news from No Use Empty property initiative

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Pledges £100k to Empty Homes Scheme

 Tunbridge Wells Borough Council pledges £100,000 to No Use Empty

Award winning empty homes scheme, No Use Empty (NUE), has received a commitment of £100,000 from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to provide top-up loans to help bring long-term empties back into use.

The pioneering scheme introduced top-up loans in 2015 and has since seen further pledges totalling £800,000 from Shepway, Dover and now Tunbridge Wells.

The top-up loans are indicative of the success of the scheme and the importance of collaboration between local authorities.

The top-up loans will be used to support the current £4 million NUE investment that has been allocated for the return of long-term empty housing stock to use.

An additional £15,000 will be added to the NUE empty loan making a total of £40,000 per unit available to unlock developments in those wards. All loans are secured and repayable after 3 years.

Councillor Lynne Weatherly, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s  Cabinet member with responsibility for Communities and Wellbeing , said: “The No Use Empty initiative has been a great success. We’ve seen dilapidated properties and long-term empty houses brought back into use, this is a good way of increasing available homes and improving the street scene for neighbours where a property has become an eyesore.”

Steve Grimshaw, Programme Manager for No Use Empty at Kent County Council said: “No Use Empty is continually innovating to try and find the best ways to bring long-term empty homes back into use. The top-up loans are an illustration of this, and we are very encouraged to see Tunbridge Wells allocate additional funds of £100,000 to help create homes.  Currently we are seeing the Government call for commitments to provide housing for first time buyers, with NUE top-up loans we are able to provide another route to access larger scale schemes, delivering much needed housing and regeneration in Kent.”


NUE celebrating National Empty Homes Week

National Empty Homes Week 2017

National Empty Homes Week will take place from Monday 16th October to 22nd October.

Every year local authorities, housing providers, community-led organisations and others see Empty Homes Week as an opportunity to organise events and put out information so that people know about their work to tackle empty homes.  Empty Homes Week is also the chance to celebrate successes and reflect on what more needs to be done to bring empty properties back into use to help meet housing needs.

If you are interested in sponsoring the week’s activities please contact the national campaigning charity on [email protected] for more information.

NUE will be updating our website with new case studies featuring our most recent projects.


Since its inception in 2005, NUE has grown to incorporate all 12 district councils and four West of England Councils including Bristol City Council as well as providing a template for the Welsh Government’s empty homes schemes “Houses Into Homes”.

We have recently achieved our ambition of returning more than 5,000 empty properties back into use across Kent.

NUE Looking Ahead

We will shortly be announcing news on additional financial support available following the success of our Top Up Loan scheme with Shepway District Council.

Demand for our loan products remain high with a growing list of potential projects.

We continue to work with our partners and seek out opportunities to bring long term empty properties back into use as residential accommodation.


A new home in Wingham

With the assistance from a NUE loan this project has recently been completed in the village of Wingham. The owner has restored this circa 18th century mid terrace home to include many of the original features and has been renovated to a high standard. The accommodation comprises of the lounge with a feature fireplace, modern fitted kitchen, spacious bedroom, family bathroom with claw foot roll top bath and separate shower. To the rear for the property is a well-proportioned garden with a decked seating area and lawn.

The property is now for sale. Details can be found at Miles and Barr

Newly converted Kent Cottage in Hythe

Luxury available in old Hythe Cottage


A development formerly called ‘Kent Cottage’ in Hythe has recently been completed. Planning permission was granted to turn the dilapidated property into a new development that would replace the old building and would be in keeping with its original character.

Four luxury residential apartments and two commercial properties are back into use with £100k assistance from KCC’s No Use Empty Initiative.

The owner Marc Carney, who has been in building all of his life, is very proud of his first venture into property development. The project has taken about a year to complete and plans to carry on if further projects become available.

The project received a plague from Hythe Civic Society for permanent display on the building for overall excellence and design and enhancing the visual quality of the neighbourhood.





Thanet Owner Occupiers Loans

First Loan Approved

The first successful applicant from Trinity Square, Margate has taken the opportunity to renovate an empty property into a home with the assistance from the new Thanet Owner Occupier loan scheme.

This loan scheme providing home-owners with the financial means to restore or renovate former empty buildings back to their former glory is a great way of breathing new life into the area and is a key part of the Thanet council’s commitment to the wider regeneration of the district.

By providing loans to owner occupiers to aid refurbishment works, helps to create new homes to help meet rising demand. The interest free loans offered to home-owners needs to be paid back over five to ten year period and requires the successful applicants to live within the newly renovated property for a minimum period of five years.

The scheme, administered in partnership with Kent County Council’s ‘No Use Empty’ initiative, will operate across the wards of the Housing Intervention area covering Cliftonville West and Margate Central.

Former British Volunteer Pub, Ashford now completed

Former British Volunteer Pub, Ashford


The original pub was converted by the army in the 1860s from two old cottages which stood alongside barracks after several licensees in the town refused to serve troublesome soldiers.

Like so many once vibrant traditional town centre pubs, it closed its doors during the summer of 2015 and remained boarded up.

The building was in fair condition but with a hole in the roof it has been partially exposed to the elements causing additional internal damage.

Galahad Developments Limited obtained planning permission to convert the building to create 6 apartments (4 x 1 bedroom and 2 x 2 bedroom).

Parking is provided for approximately 12 vehicles. The accommodation is arranged across two main floors. The ground floor has access to the front and rear

This is the very first NUE project in Ashford to receive loan funding.

Not only are we extremely pleased with the finished results but our loan has already been repaid (12 months) following the sale of the property to a housing association.

This means that we are able to recycle the money into another project to create even more new homes.



Shepway NUE Top Up Loans – Scoop National Innovation Award

Shepway No Use Empty Plus Scoops National Innovation Award

Shepway District Council (SDC) were presented with the Innovation Award at this year’s national Empty Homes Conference held in Birmingham organised by the Empty Homes Network.

Iain Cobby, Private Sector Housing Officer (Shepway District Council) and Steve Grimshaw (NUE Programme Manager) were presented with the award by Nick Pritchard-Gordon (Chair of Empty Homes Network and the Conference).



Since 2005, SDC has been a founding partner of the No Use Empty scheme, funded by Kent County Council (KCC) which offers developers an interest free loan of up to £25,000 per empty property, to support refurbishment costs. In 2015 SDC reviewed its most problematic long-term empty homes and concluded that in many cases, a loan of £25,000 would be insufficient to fund the work required to bring them back into use. SDC introduced No Use Empty Plus for the financial year 2015/16, making an additional £15,000 available to increase the maximum loan available to £40,000 per unit brought back into use.

The loans are repayable after 3 years so the money can be recycled back into the scheme which is administered by KCC on behalf of SDC.

SDC allocated £675,000 for No Use Empty Plus to 2016/17 and a further £391,000 for 2017/18.


Shepway’s problem empty homes

Economic decline, recession and some of the lowest property values in the south east have led to a historical lack of investment in some areas of Shepway, exacerbating the cycle of decline that blights empty homes. Over the last decade, the area’s ongoing cultural regeneration and ability to attract high profile investors and funding, has led to increased interest from small and medium sized property developers wanting to refurbish empty buildings and turn them into homes.

However, in many cases, the severe dilapidation of the property and an inability to access funding on the open market for renovation costs, has left buildings empty. No Use Empty and No Use Empty Plus are designed to help developers to bridge the gap between pre and post refurbishment values by providing a loan which takes account of works costs, which banks and other lenders will not do. Without our joined approach these properties would have remained empty.


More homes:

45 homes have been funded under No Use Empty Plus to date of which 20 are completed and are in use, including 11 affordable rented homes.

More funding:

In addition to the funds provided by SDC, KCC have provided £1.2M from the No Use Empty scheme and a further £520k leveraged from the private sector.

New Homes Bonus:

SDC has been awarded a £365,508 New Homes Bonus for 2017/18, including £140,000 for 94 empty homes brought back into use from October 2015 to October 2016.

More Winners

NUE supported the Empty Homes Practitioner of the Year category.

All images are kindly provided by the Empty Homes Network.


Thelma Cunningham, Housing Delivery Officer, Plymouth City Council receiving the Empty Homes Practitioner of the Year Award from KCC’s Steve Grimshaw.

Claire Storey, Private Sector Initiatives Officer, Durham County Council receiving a highly commended award for Empty Homes Practitioner of the Year from Steve.




Margate Civic Society, Town Pride Awards – NUE Project Highly Commended

Margate Civic Society, Town Pride Awards 2017

The results of this year’s Town Pride Awards were announced at the meeting of the Margate Civic Society held at the prestigious Walpole Bay Hotel, Cliftonville on Thursday, 11 May.

A grand total of nine properties were judged for the 2017 Town Pride Awards as having enhanced the built environment. The calibre of nominations received indicates a growing awareness amongst the Society’s members of the major contribution that both renovation of often run-down properties and the erection of well-designed new properties make to Margate.

The results of the Town Pride Awards were announced by the Society’s Chairman, Pamela Pople and the presentations made by the President, Mr Ralph Handscomb.

No Use Empty (NUE) provided an interest free loan to assist with the total rebuild of a fire damaged site at 125 High Street, Margate which now provides six high quality units of accommodation all of which are occupied.  Representatives from Urban Surveying & Design Ltd, Jenner (Construction) and NUE were invited guests to the event.

The project was highly commended and was nominated along with:

Winners and Highly Commended Representatives

The Old Kent Market, 8 Fort Hill, Margate (Transformation & renovation)
3, 3a & 3b Arnold Road, Margate (New build terrace of 3 properties)
15 Carroway’s Place, Margate (New build terrace of 3 properties)
Sacha Court, 32 Addington Street, Margate (Restoration & new-build)
MôR, 38 Fort Hill, Margate (Renovation of commercial premises)
39-41 High Street, Margate (Renovation of commercial premises)
Cooke & Co, 147 Northdown Road, Cliftonville, Margate (Transformation of commercial premises)
23-25 Grotto Gardens, Cliftonville, Margate (Conversion of 3 former workshop units to residential dwellings)




The outright winner of the 2017 Town Pride Awards and Recipient of the Town Pride Plaque and Framed Certificate – ‘In recognition of good and sensitive design which contributes to the enhancement of our area’ was The Old Kent Market, 8 Fort Hill, Margate


Mr Ralph Handscomb, Matt Beasley (Urban Surveying & Design Ltd, Kirk Longman (Jenne Contractors Ltd) and Pamela Pope


Recipients of Town Pride ‘Highly Commended’ Framed Certificates

125 High Street, Margate
3, 3a & 3b Arnold Road, Margate
23-25 Grotto Gardens, Cliftonville, Margate





Pamela Pople, who organised the event, said “I should like to thank former KCC Cllrs Mo Elenor and Will Scobie for their support in providing 5 years’ funding towards this project, which enabled us to commission Croft Cast Signs to create a bespoke new durable blue plaque depicting the Margate Clock Tower, which has become a symbol of our Society.

I am delighted once again that we received nominations of a very high calibre, resulting in one Town Pride winner this year and 3 ‘Highly Commended’, each of which was diverse, reflecting the exceptional high standard of new projects that have been undertaken in the local area, which will contribute greatly in raising its ethos and a sense of pride in our community.”

For more information click here

NUE Announce Thanet Owner Occupier Scheme

Thanet District Council  – Owner Occupier Loan Scheme

Thanet District Council will be the first council in Kent to provide loans for home-owners looking to renovate and then move into former empty properties.

Secured loans of up to £20,000 will be available for anyone who purchases, renovates and then moves into properties which have stood empty for a period of six months or more.

The scheme, administered in partnership with Kent County Council’s ‘No Use Empty’ initiative, will operate across the wards of the Housing Intervention area covering Cliftonville West and Margate Central.

It is funded using £150k of a wider £4.2 million pot of cluster funding from the Department of Communities and Local Government, set aside for delivering the ‘Live Margate’ Housing Intervention Programme.

The loans are repayable over a five to ten year period and require successful applicants to live in the newly restored property for a minimum period of five years.

Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Community Services, Cllr Lin Fairbrass, said: “We’re proud to launch this scheme which is a first for Kent. Providing home-owners with the financial means to restore these former empty buildings back to their former glory is a great way of breathing new life into the area and is a key part of the council’s commitment to the wider regeneration of the district.”

Mark Dance, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Kent County Council, said:

“Thanet is changing rapidly and is becoming a vibrant and creative area where a younger demographic wish to live and to work. A lot of our work to return empty homes though our No Use Empty initiative has been concentrated in Thanet; by providing loans to owner occupiers to aid refurbishment works we not only create new homes to help meet rising demand, we also help accelerate the regeneration process, as empty homes can blight can area, attract crime, and deter investment.”


If you are interested in scheme, please contact: Steve Grimshaw, NUE Programme Manager on 03000 417084


NUE undertaking to deliver More Affordable Homes in Folkestone

Solini Court, Dover Road, Folkestone

A Local Property Developer has added a further 11  Affordable Homes to his property portfolio with Solini Court nearing completion.

NUE launched an affordable homes project in 2012 in response to the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) Affordable Homes Programme (2012-15) and delivered 42 units.

With no new HCA funds being available for empty properties KCC made additional funds available post 2015 to continue to assist with making homes available for local people at affordable rents.

With additional financial support from Shepway District Council’s No Use Empty Plus fund – a secured  loan (5 years) to cover the refurbishment costs was provided.

This was on condition that the property was made available at an affordable rent (80% of the market rent) and managed by a registered provider for an agreed 5 year period.

The rent is guaranteed for that period of time and a management fee does apply.

The property was  officially handed to AmicusHorizon to manage during Empty Homes Week .


The property is situated in a mixed residential and commercial locality close to the town centre. The building dates from around 1900 and previous uses include warehousing and more recently as a funeral directors. The site was empty for 2 years and suffering from internal damage caused by a leaking roof and burst pipes. The site was also a favourite location for anti-social behaviour.

Having delivered successful smaller projects with the help of NUE, the local property developer approached NUE to seek financial support if he could acquire the site and obtain planning permission for change of use including the provision of 11 self contained flats.

An agreement in principle was reached and following the successful purchase and approval from the local council a contract was soon in place.

There are now 6 x 1 bedroom units, 3 x 3 bedroom units and 2 x 2 bedroom units.

Wider Regeneration

This project complements the wider regeneration aspirations for Folkestone. It is directly opposite a £7 million project now underway to create a new 1,000 square metre multi-storey skate park, which is being funded by Sir Roger De Haan’s charitable trust, which should be completed by the end of 2017. Access to the skate park will be heavily subsidised so young people from the area have a safe place to play.

For more information click here