Blog: Making the best use of our assets – Scottish Empty Homes Conference 2017

Winners of the Outstanding Project Award 2016 – Campbeltown Townscape Heritage Initiative
Winners of the Outstanding Project Award 2016 – Campbeltown Townscape Heritage Initiative

Ahead of this year’s Scottish Empty Homes Conference, Shelter Scotland’s Shaheena Din outlines what people can expect from the day.

This year, the 2017 Scottish Empty Homes Conference is to be held in The Lighthouse in Glasgow, a beautiful repurposed building, which feels so befitting to the cause of derelict buildings being brought back into use. It is Scotland’s centre for design and architecture, situated in the heart of the city.

Our event this year looks to inspire, educate and remind our practitioners and stakeholders of why empty properties start with us and how we, together, can make the best use of our assets. We still have a challenge in Scotland with the approximately 34,000 empty properties nationwide.

The morning will start off with Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government and Housing, presenting the annual Scottish Empty Homes Champion of the Year Awards. The nominations have started to come in and the entries are all fascinating. Although, in my opinion, we are all already winners when bringing life to any empty home.

Our workshops this year attempt to cover some of the keys to unlocking empty properties and I am looking forward to hearing the practical tools from Annie Flint when discussing common repairs as well as the visual demonstration from Neil Moir, Scottish Government with key partners, Coigach Community Development Company, and Michael Chisholm from The Highland Small Communities Housing Trust of the Achiltibuie project. They hope to piece together the jigsaw puzzle, from the community group taking over the schoolhouse, to the successful Rural & Island Housing Fund application.

The opportunity to share the wealth of knowledge across our network is a key aim of the annual conference. This year, Bill Halliday and Kelly Ferns from Argyll & Bute are looking to share their insight on how to succeed and avoid silos in the council, while Sean Maxwell from Dundee/Angus is going to provide a useful case study on the Empty Homes Loan Fund and showcase a demonstrative example.

I am excited to hear our keynote speaker, Sarah Beattie Smith, Senior Climate and Energy Policy Officer, who is going to evidence the need for restoring empty properties. She will highlight the key changes to climate from retrofitting disused buildings as opposed to building new ones and explain why it matters so much.

  • Shaheena Din is the national project manager for the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership
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