Empty homes scheme scoops industry award

TV architect George Clarke with North Lanarkshire Council's empty homes officer Catriona Arbuckle and Phil Hanson from Howdens.
TV architect George Clarke with North Lanarkshire Council's empty homes officer Catriona Arbuckle and Phil Hanson from Howdens.
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North Lanarkshire Council has been recognised for outstanding local efforts to prevent empty homes from blighting its communities.

The Empty Homes Purchase Scheme has won the title of Howdens Scottish Empty Homes Champion of the Year, after being judged in categories such as innovation and best practice.

The award was presented during the Howdens Scottish Empty Homes conference by TV architect and UK empty homes advisor George Clarke.

The scheme employs various ways to tackle issues caused by empty properties.

Its main focus is on bringing empty properties back into use by adding them to the local social housing stock in high demand areas, and has already converted 33 properties.

The scheme was also praised for providing value for money - for example, recently a home was purchased for £47,000 and following its refurbish is now equivalent to a £68,000 new build.

Empty homes officer Catriona Arbuckle said: “We’re absolutely delighted this innovative project is making a real difference and is being recognised as excellent practice.

“We’re aware of an increase in the number of vacant private properties which are often in serious disrepair and also of an increase in owners of former council properties asking if the council would buy their property back.

“The project has gone from strength to strength and we’re confident it will continue to make a difference.”