Call for bids for £4m empty homes fund
A new fund has been launched which aims to create additional residential accommodation in Scotland’s urban and rural towns.
The Scottish Government’s £4 million Town Centre Empty Homes Fund will finance projects to convert disused commercial premises into residential and to target problematic empty homes that require extensive refurbishment to make them habitable again.
Registered social landlords and developers can apply for funding until 21 August 2015.
The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, which is run by the housing charity Shelter Scotland, works with councils to help bring empty private-sector homes back into use.
Since 2010, the partnership has brought over 900 homes back into use and encouraged 17 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities to appoint dedicated empty homes officers.
Launching the fund, housing minister Margaret Burgess said town centres are “a key element of the economic, social and environmental fabric of Scotland’s towns”.
Mrs Burgess added: “We want town centres to thrive sustainably and meet the needs of residents, businesses and visitors.
“Good quality, affordable housing is at the heart of this vision and transforming empty, disused spaces into comfortable homes makes sense.
“There are an estimated 27,000 long-term private empty homes in Scotland and it makes sense to make the best use possible of these properties when homelessness still exists.”
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Many of the 27,000 long-term empty homes across Scotland lie in our town centres and are a blight on many neighbourhoods. Bringing them back into use with the help of this fund will be welcome news not only to the 150,500 families and individuals on waiting lists but also those in the private rented sector looking for affordable homes.
“Making use of existing housing stock can make a real difference to people and communities. Because of their location, town centre empty homes are already well linked to employment opportunities and support services, making them places that people want to live.”
Members of the public can phone a free helpline to report empty homes in their communities, contributing to bringing them back into use. The public can report an empty home by calling 0344 515 1941.
The announcement comes as people across Scotland are being asked to take part in a national discussion about how the country can be a fairer and more equal place to live, covering topics including access to affordable housing.