innovative scheme aimed at revitalising town centres, providing new homes and improving
the environment by restoring derelict properties across the district has won its creators
a national award.
The prize was presented to Warwick District Council during National Week of Action on
Empty Homes, organised by The Empty Homes agency on Friday 23 April in Birmingham.
The scheme the first of its kind in the country is aimed at helping
property owners find the cash to renovate uninhabitable buildings by underwriting loans
they would otherwise be unable to attract.
A joint initiative between Warwick District Council, the Nationwide Building Society
and promoted by estate agents Peter Bromwich and Loveitts, offers loans secured against
the anticipated, rather than the current, value of the property.
Housing committee chairman Cllr Peter Byrd (Labour) explained:
"Raising the finance is often an insurmountable hurdle for owners if the cost of
conversion or renovation exceeds the current value of the property. This innovative
funding mechanism has found a way of bridging this finance gap."
Once work is completed the council relinquishes its responsibility for the loan.
"The scheme offers a number of advantages to the owners of the properties they
cannot afford to maintain such as providing them with additional income from the
rental of the revitalised building and the chance to see their property returned to
"Its a totally win win situation." Explained Cllr Byrd.
The council has underwritten loans on three properties in various parts of Leamington
since the schemes launch at the end of last year. The project will be promoted
district-wide at a meeting in May.
Independent housing committee spokesman Cllr Peter Jackson said:
"The council deserves to win the award for this innovative scheme, which has
involved a great deal of hard work. It is the first of its kind in the country and other
councils are already showing interest in adopting a similar idea themselves. I hope it
goes from strength to strength."
Conservative spokesman Cllr Michael Doody said:
"The spirit of the scheme is very good. We have a number of properties in the
district which must have looked superb thirty years ago. Its good news that we
should be able to give their owners a headstart in bringing them back to this
Cllr Boad (Lib Dem) explained:
"This award shows that innovation can help bring back into use homes which have
not been used to their full potential particularly those over shops. It also means
we can bring back some life in to the town centres. There is nothing worse than having a
ghost town. The scheme is a good incentive for property owners to do something about
Hugh Roberts Business Finance Manager from the Nationwide Building Society said the
project was already generating interest from other local authorities.
"Once the scheme is launched officially next month we want to make sure people use
David Plank from the Empty Homes Agency, which aims to slash the number of unused
properties across the country, said:
"We chose Warwick District Council to receive this award because it had devised
the most innovative empty property strategy."