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£91m cash boost to get 6,000 empty homes back into use

£91m cash to get 6,000 empty back into useCommunities Minister Don Foster has announced that towns across England will benefit from £91 million to refurbish and bring back into use over 6,000 empty homes and derelict homes.

The Minister said that regions in the Midlands and North, where the problem is most acute, would especially benefit from the investment that will create new jobs and boost the building industry.

Speaking today whist visiting an empty homes refurbishment project in Stoke on Trent, Mr Foster said: “The government is doing everything possible to tackle the problem of empty homes and urban blight.

“Today I’m announcing we’re going to do even more, with towns across England benefiting from £91 million to refurbish over 6,000 empty properties to get them back into use.

“This will bring people, shops and jobs back to once abandoned areas, and provide extra affordable homes we so badly need.”

The funding will be spent on refurbishment in areas where empty properties have commonly led to problems such as squatting, rat infestation and collapsing house prices, driving remaining residents away.

The funding is being allocated under two programmes:

  • £61 million from the second round of the empty homes funding programme, provided to successful bidders eligible from all areas across England (except London, which will be announced separately) with empty homes. Around two thirds of this (£41 million) is allocated by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to registered social landlords; and the remaining money to community and voluntary groups. Together the 187 successful organisations will bring around 3,200 extra homes back into use.
  • £30 million second year award of Clusters of Empty Homes programme funding for twenty partnerships in areas of acute problems such as Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Middlesbrough which will bring around 3,500 homes back into use.

Andy Rose, HCA chief executive, said: “We had a very encouraging response to the funding across a wide range of types of property.

“This demonstrates a strong appetite and scope for bringing empty homes and properties back into use, which will help to reinvigorate our communities and towns. We look forward to working with housing providers to bring these homes forward.”

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Green Light for Building Construction Work in South London

Planning permission has been granted to develop a 111,000 sq.ft. extension to a shopping complex in South London, the Construction Enquirer reported today.

The joint venture between British Land and Tesco is also going to refurbish an existing 309,000 sq. ft. shopping centre at Canada Water, Rotherhithe Peninsula. The renovation, which is part of the £30 million investment plan for the area, will improve existing facilities and is expected to create new jobs.

The Construction Enquirer reported that improvements worth up to £4 million will be carried out around the centre. These are expected to improve connexions between Surrey Quays station and Canada Water tube and bus station, it was revealed.

Retail Development Manager at British Land, David Pollock, welcomed the extension of the shopping centre and emphasised the importance of the wider regeneration plan for area of Surrey Quays.

Mr Pollock said: “The extension and refurbishment will create additional space that will allow us to attract and accommodate new and exciting retailers, ensuring that Surrey Quays remains competitive in today’s market.”

Mr Pollock commented that the shopping experience in the area will be significantly improved for both existing and new customers

Construction work will start in spring 2013 and is expected to be completed by the summer of 2014.

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HCA Confirms Investment for New Affordable Homes

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has granted £70 million to local authorities, housing associations and other home providers in the UK to bring empty properties back into use. This will deliver more than 5,600 new affordable homes, boosting the building construction industry and creating new jobs.

The £70 million investment will fund the refurbishment of properties which have been standing empty for a minimum period of 6 months. There are currently 700,000 empty homes in the UK that are not in use. The Empty Homes Programme, which is part of the HCA’s main Affordable Homes Programme 2011-15, will bring a considerable number of those homes back to live.

Chief Executive of the HCA, Pat Ritchie, said that the issue of providing more affordable homes across the country will continue to be a priority for the government and the HCA.

Mr Ritchie said: “One of the HCA’s key aims is to maintain a supply of affordable homes. With thousands of homes and properties lying empty across UK, we have a leading role to play in tackling the issue of empty homes blighting our communities, and this funding is welcomed. The high level of interest we received by providers bidding to participate in this programme demonstrates just how important of an issue this is.

“I am pleased therefore to be able to confirm our funding allocations for this spending period. Every part of the country is set to benefit, and we will be continuing to work closely with our local partners to maximise the allocations and deliver value for money in those areas where the need is greatest.”

The government has allocated in its Comprehensive Spending Review a total investment of £100 million for the Empty Homes Programme.  The remaining £30 million will be made available exclusively for community led groups at a later stage of the scheme.

What is your reaction to the £70 million investment to refurbish thousands of properties and provide more affordable homes across the country? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below: