Top award for North Lanarkshire empty homes scheme
North Lanarkshire Council’s Empty Homes Purchase Scheme has scooped the title of ‘The Howdens Scottish Empty Homes Champion of the Year’ in recognition of its exemplary contribution to the field of private sector empty homes work in Scotland.
The award was presented at the Howdens Scottish Empty Homes Conference by George Clarke, TV architect and UK Empty Homes Adviser.
The Empty Homes Purchase Scheme addresses some of the issues faced by owners and communities in relation to empty properties. This includes bringing properties that cause blight to neighbourhoods back into use and helping to increase the supply of affordable council housing in high demand areas.
The scheme has already brought 33 empty homes back into use as social housing while achieving value for money. For example, a recent empty homes purchase cost £47,000 to buy and refurbish. The equivalent new build purchase would have been £68,000.
The project helps improve town centres and local communities by bringing empty homes back into use as well as providing a cost effective way of increasing council stock.
Catriona Arbuckle, empty homes officer for the council, accepted the award on behalf of the project. She said: “We’re absolutely delighted that this innovative project is making a real difference and is being recognised as excellent practice.
“We’re aware of an increase in the number of vacant private properties which are often in serious disrepair and also of an increase in owners of former council properties asking if the council would buy their property back.
“The project has gone from strength to strength and we’re confident it will continue to make a difference across communities.”
The Scottish Empty Homes Champion of the year award is given to an organisation that over the past year has best engaged in activity to bring private empty homes back into use. Elements such as innovation, commitment to best practice as well at outcomes/outputs were part of the judging.
This project has also been recognised as excellent practice by being shortlisted for a Corporate Award, and at a recent Shelter conference it was highlighted as an example of best improvement for a local authority.