Get that grant! Renovate your derelict pad

No Use Empty, the initiative which is helping to bring empty properties in Kent back into use, has approved a further £2.2 million interest free loans in the last year to home owners across the County. These loans will help the owners to renovate new family homes across Kent including Dover , Thanet, Dartford , Shepway and Sevenoaks. No Use Empty has smashed its target with almost 40 interest-free loans awarded in the last financial year…

No Use Empty, a partnership between Kent County Council and the District and Borough Councils has been combating the ongoing problem of empty housing through issuing over £3.3million interest-free loans to date. The issue of empty housing is particularly topical at a time when the current economic climate makes it very difficult for individuals to borrow money from financial institutions.

This new batch of loans from No Use Empty will benefit local districts all over the county of Kent, some of whom have recently joined the loan scheme, including:

In Dartford , an interest-free loan has recently been awarded in Greenhithe, Dartford for £150,000 to Barnton Sales Limited, for a pair of three-storey former town houses which will be refurbished
and converted to 6 self-contained flats.  Meanwhile in the popular village of Bean, a single storey detached school house constructed circa 1895, will be transformed into a new family home, following the approval of a loan of £25,000 to assist with the overall project costs.

In Thanet, several new loans have been awarded, including a loan of £175,000 in Cliftonville for a property which was originally part of The Landmark Hotel. Since the property has remained derelict for some time, it has been subject to squatters and vandalism. Full planning permission and building control has been granted to convert the building, and essential redevelopment and refurbishment will now commence in keeping with the building's historic character and style. Total costs for the project are estimated to be in the region of £400,000, of which the loan from No Use Empty will go a significant way to cover converting the property into 14 two bedroom apartments which will then be available for let. 

Elsewhere in Thanet, a loan for £135,000 has been awarded in Cliftonville, Margate, for a property dating back to the 1800s and currently being converted to form 8 self-contained two bedroom apartments.

£50,000 has also been awarded for two flats at Granville House, a former hotel in Ramsgate, located on the seafront in Victoria Parade which is elevated above the beach.

Another property benefiting from the scheme is within the Ramsgate area of Thanet, where £25,000 has been awarded for the redevelopment of a two-storey middle terraced house with a basement dating back to the1850s. The new high-speed rail link announced will also bring potential benefits to a new owner once the refurbishment has taken place.

In Dover , a loan of £42,000 has been provided in order to assist with the refurbishment of a four storey mid terrace house built circa 1890, situated in the town centre and to the rear of Dover Priory Train Station. The property will provide three self contained units

Close to the Eastern Docks in Dover, £125,000 has been awarded for the redevelopment of a terrace of three former houses once known as Cliff Court Hotel. The properties have a sea front location and date back over 150 years to around 1840. The property has already been awarded planning permission for 22 flats across all three houses, providing much welcome housing for the area.

In Shepway, the first batch of loans totaling £170k have been distributed in the district including  the refurbishment of  a Victorian property in Bouverie Place, Folkestone, as well as properties in Tontine Street, London Street and Pavillion Road.

In Sevenoaks , £25,000 has been granted in Greenlands for a detached property in need of complete refurbishment. The project has planning permission to include a partial demolition and partial extension, to create a new 3-bedroom family home.

Kent County Council has committed at least £5 million Capital fund to provide financial support to owners of empty properties to help them pay for necessary renovations required to bring them back into use.  Research shows that the cost of renovation works is one of the biggest obstacles to bringing empty homes back into use and the loan scheme is a very tangible solution to unlock the problem.

The loan scheme is intended for any owner of an empty property, or someone who is considering buying an empty property (if the property has been empty for 6 months or more). They can apply for an interest-free loan of up to £25,000 per unit to a maximum of £175,000, which is made as an up front payment. Loans will also be considered for applications to convert commercial properties into residential accommodation.

Kevin Lines, Cabinet Member for Regeneration at Kent County Council, said, "The enormous success of the loan scheme highlights just how critical the issue of empty housing is in the County and how the No Use Empty partnership is needed by residents to tackle the problem. We're so pleased we have been able to assist more people in giving a new lease of life to so many empty homes, and that the initiative in Kent is proving a valuable option for those who are finding it hard to raise money for these projects." 

In total we have spent almost £2 million to date on interest-free loans bringing properties back into use, with many more in the pipe-line. Since the initiative was rolled out from East Kent to across the whole County last year, many more are benefiting and we hope that yet more will be able to do so in the future so that we can return as many homes as possible back into use".

Barbara Hewett-Silk recipient of a No Use Empty loan in Ramsgate, Thanet, said: "It has been tremendously helpful to have access to funds to help bring this house back up to a decent housing standard. It had been empty for over four years and suffered a lot of water damage, so the help provided by the KCC & Thanet District Council staff in obtaining the loan has meant we have been able to carry out the repairs quickly and get the house ready for sale in a short space of time."

Empty property officers at the District Councils are working hard to ensure similar help and advice is available to property owners across Kent.  If you would like to discuss this further please call the No Use Empty hotline 08458 247605, or visit the website – www.no-use-empty.org

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