National award for Argyll and Bute empty homes services

Argyll and Bute CouncilArgyll and Bute Council’s Empty Homes Service has scooped a top award at this year’s prestigious Howdens Scottish Empty Homes Conference in Edinburgh for the second year in a row.

The team won the category of ‘Best Before and After Photo’ for images of an empty property brought back into use, and were presented with the award by ‘Amazing Spaces’ TV star George Clark. This award follows on from last year’s success when the service won two categories at the event.

The winning photographs featured internal before and after photos of an empty property that had fallen into serious disrepair but had been transformed into a lovely, family home.

Due to the poor condition of the property a closing order had been served which legally prohibited anyone to occupy it. Oban resident, Graham MacEachen purchased the property earlier this year and engaged with the housing service team to renovate the flat and bring it back into use.

Graham, an architect to trade, undertook a lot of the renovation work himself and following completion the closing order was lifted. The property has now been sold to provide a good quality family home in an area of high housing demand.

The council’s policy lead for housing, Councillor Robin Currie, said: “This is a refreshing good news story which shows the impact that our Housing Services Team is having across Argyll and Bute. To receive national recognition is a wonderful accomplishment but to get an award two years running is outstanding and one which the staff should be very proud of.”

Talking about the project, Mr MacEachen said: “After lying empty for over ten years nothing other than the stone walls were salvageable. This allowed me to re design it as I wished and resulted in a flat that was well insulated, well equipped and well laid out. Kelly Ferns, the council’s empty homes officer and Karen Cox, Housing Improvement Officer gave some tax advice that helped make it an affordable project worth undertaking.”

Kristen Hubert, Scottish Empty Homes Partnership national manager, said: “Argyll and Bute Council’s before and after photos told a compelling story of a home once cherished that had been left to rot and its eventual re-birth as a much loved home once again. This is a perfect example of how a picture can be worth 1000 words, in this case illustrating the continuing success and importance of the council’s empty homes work. A very deserving winner.”


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