Properties are being brought back to life

Coun John Harrison visits a property in Westmorland Avenue, Willington Quay, which has been transformed under the Changing Lives' Homelife scheme (left to right) Frank Roche-Changing Lives, Coun John Harrison, James McBurnie-Changing Lives and Val Nevin-Assistant Director-Changing Lives.'REF 0212144719
Coun John Harrison visits a property in Westmorland Avenue, Willington Quay, which has been transformed under the Changing Lives' Homelife scheme (left to right) Frank Roche-Changing Lives, Coun John Harrison, James McBurnie-Changing Lives and Val Nevin-Assistant Director-Changing Lives.'REF 0212144719

A scheme is helping transform empty properties back into homes.

As part of National Empty Homes Week, Changing Lives’ Homelife boosted its portfolio of affordable homes to 50 following government funding earlier in the year.

The organisation has undertaken a raft of property purchases and renovations of flats and houses, with the 50th property being in Willington Quay.

Stephen Bell OBE, chief executive, said: “Our innovative Homelife project provides long-term homes rather than short-term houses, from which tenants can work towards jobs and all the other positive things stable living provides.

“As well as helping people in housing need, the Empty Homes programme meets local needs too.”

North Tyneside Council and its partners have been highlighting ongoing efforts to target and develop problematic, long-term empty properties and bring them back to use.

During 2014, their collective schemes have transformed 20 properties and more work is already programmed for 2015 as the authority looks to create around 3,000 additional affordable homes over ten years.

Coun John Harrison, cabinet member with responsibility for housing, said: “Demand is high for affordable and high-quality homes in North Tyneside.

“Our ambition is to deliver around 3,000 more homes over the next ten years. This scheme has turned over a significant number of properties already, many of which were eyesores, and without this intervention it’s likely that they would have remained empty and unliveable.”

The Government’s New Homes Bonus has enabled North Tyneside Council to finance its Empty Homes Programme work, with the authority creating a revolving loans fund to pay the upfront costs of refurbishment.

The outlay is then paid back via rental income collected over an agreed term resulting in no overall capital costs to the council.

Local landlords involved in North Tyneside Council’s Empty Homes Programme have also praised the support on offer.

William Leong, who owned a long-term empty house which has since been transformed by the programme, said: “North Tyneside’s Empty Homes team were really understanding at a time when I felt very vulnerable and sympathetically worked with me to offer the financial assistance needed to repair and improve the property so that it could be brought back into use for someone in need of housing.

“With all the worry about what to do with my property now resolved, I am feeling very positive about the future.”