“Making Homes from Houses”: How one housing scheme is changing lives

After: The house after renovations.

The social housing problem in Preston is being tackled by an innovative scheme. Preston City Council and Community Gateway Association are taking a pro-active approach to the ongoing issue as well as addressing the amount of empty homes in Preston.

The Making Homes from Houses scheme is a partnership between the PCC and CGA with the main aim to renovate long term empty properties so they can be resourcefully re-occupied.

Community Gateway Association steps in to buy the empty property from homeowners in its current condition and then Preston City Council finance renovation works so it can become of use to the 1,000 people currently on the housing waiting list at an affordable cost.

Empty properties can become a problem because they can attract anti-social behaviour and crime. Renovating empty homes can also improve the appearance of the area and give confidence to the residents in the neighbourhood.

Empty Homes Officer from the Environmental Health Department in Preston City Council, Stephen Bennett said: “We tend to target properties that have been empty for two years.”

“We provide funds through Community Infrastructure Levy funds in conjunction with Community Gateway which is the housing association. They will renovate the property and either purchase it from the owner should they wish or they can do a lease scheme for a minimum of 10 years.

“After the 10 years the owner then gets the property back in a habitable state whereas before it was uninhabitable.”

The win-win scheme benefits everyone involved: it benefits the council because they can shorten the housing waiting list using their nomination rights to provide tenants, it benefits the tenants because they pay rent 20% less than market value, CGA benefit because they are replenishing the stock and fulfilling the need to supply tenants for the property.

For more information on the project, check out Preston Council’s page.