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Howdens Scottish Empty Homes Champion of the Year Awards 2018

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The Howdens Scottish Empty Homes Champion of the Year Awards are now complete. We see this as a way to honour practitioners who have shown outstanding commitment and accomplished excellent results in empty homes work. We want to shout out the importance of bringing empty homes back into use, raise the profile of empty homes work and publicly announce the achievements as an exemplary practice. These can be used to showcase best practice across Scotland and elsewhere in the world.

The awards ceremony took place alongside the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership annual conference on Monday 26th November 2018 at The Engine Shed in Stirling.

The winners are listed below.

Outstanding Project Finalists

Perth and Kinross restored building
Finalist

Perth and Kinross Council

The council have successfully used their empty homes loan fund of £350k on 5 projects that will bring 20 long term empty properties back into use to provide much needed affordable housing for 20 households. This averages at about £17,500 per unit against the cost of a new build at £100,000 and supports the council’s objectives to provide good, quality affordable homes for the people of Perth & Kinross as well as supporting town centre regeneration and sustaining rural communities.

No photo available
Winner

South Ayrshire Council

The council have taken a joined-up approach to increasing the supply of affordable housing and tackling the blight of empty homes within its area. By interlinking their empty homes work with their strategic objective to increase the supply of affordable housing by purchasing ex-local authority properties. This joint approach sees partners working together to assess the need for a property based on the council’s housing needs and demand assessment. Since becoming involved in the project in 2016 the Empty Homes Officer has worked with owners and has successfully brought 22 long term empty properties back into mainstream council stock.

YMCA students restoring a property
Finalist

YMCA Glenrothes Empty Homes Programme

YMCA Glenrothes is a community hub based in the centre of Glenrothes. The YMCA have taken an innovative approach by transforming long term empty houses into affordable new homes for people who are homeless or at risk from homelessness. This project provides wrap around support from the “Y Family” and can help with employment opportunities, tenancy deposits and life skills. The project uses local college students as part of their renovation plan.

Outstanding Service Finalists

No photo available
Finalist

West Dunbartonshire & Renfrewshire Council – Homes Again Shared Service

West Dunbartonshire and Renfrewshire Council’s Empty Homes Service has been in operation since 2012 and is the longest running shared service in Scotland. However, prior to the current post holder taking over the role in 2017 the position had been vacant for 18 months. Since being recruited the empty homes officer has returned 21 properties back in to use. Many of these had been outstanding for several years, including a property that had been empty for at least 10 years. The empty homes officer’s persistence resulted in the property being refurbished to a high standard and it will shortly be occupied. Council tax debt of over £12,000 was also collected.

No photo available
Winner

Dundee & Angus Shared Service Empty Homes Project

The Dundee & Angus Shared Service Empty Homes Project was introduced in collaboration with the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership in December 2015. It is one of only two Empty Homes Officer posts in Scotland employed in a partnership agreement between two local authorities. Over the 2 full financial years that the service has been operating the Empty Homes Officer has played a fundamental role in returning 106 properties to residential use, helping to bring an estimated £1.3 million into the local economy per annum. Overall outcomes achieved by the shared service go far beyond exceeding set targets year on year, with results 32.5% above set targets.

No photo available
Finalist

Orkney Islands

Orkney has the highest number of long-term empty properties in Scotland and was beginning to have problems with a lack of affordable housing and particularly private rentals. Orkney’s Empty Homes Scheme was established in June 2017. In the first year, fifteen empty homes were brought back into use. As of September 2018, this total is up to eighteen properties. One of the groundbreaking projects the Empty Homes Scheme assists with is the establishment of Gateway Homes in Orkney’s Outer Isles. These homes allow families to trial living on a small island at affordable rental prices before committing to living on the island long-term.

Outstanding Individual Finalists

Finalist

Barbara Crichton

Barbara became the Inverclyde Empty Homes Officer in May 2017. She has driven the Empty Homes service from a standing start to become a recognised Inverclyde wide scheme that is available to all for help, advice, guidance and support to both owners of empty properties and neighbours. Barbara has created a network of local contacts in estate agents and letting agents and has amassed a wealth of local knowledge regarding empty homes. Working in one of the smallest local authorities, she has brought back 10 empty properties to date.

Winner

Kelly Ferns

Kelly has worked enthusiastically to raise the profile of the benefits of bringing empty homes back into use with both internal and external partners since taking up the role of Empty Homes Officer in Argyll and Bute in 2013. The diverse geography of Argyll and Bute presents its own challenges over and above the issues presented by empty homes. However, Kelly has embraced these and during her time in post she has assisted over 370 owners to bring their properties back into use.

Special Mention

Allyson Allison

Allyson was one of the first practitioners of the Empty Homes Pilot Initiative in 2013 and has been Stirling Council’s full-time Empty Homes Officer since July 2016. To date she has returned in excess of 460 properties back in to use, resulting in an estimated £5 million of additional spend in to the local communities. Her achievements have been recognised with several awards including UK Joint Practitioner of the Year 2016 and Chartered Institute of Housing (Scotland), The Robina Goodlad Award 2016.

Finalist

Lesley Cockburn

Lesley has accumulated 20 years of service within the Housing functions of both North and South Ayrshire Councils. She manages a number of innovative approaches to supporting empty homes owners and is particularly keen at taking a joint working approach and utilising the knowledge and experience of officers in other frontline services as a tool for unlocking the potential of empty properties. Since February 2016 Lesley has overseen the acquisition of 22 long-term empty properties which have now been returned to mainstream housing stock.

Best Use of Media Finalist

Winner

Liz King

Media coverage was gained through the initiation of Shelter Scotland’s promotion of our Empty Homes Conference this then lead to interest from the BBC who in turn did a news item on the 6 o’clock news covering the council tax changes and empty homes work.

Best Before and After Photo Finalists

Craigendavie before
Finalist

Argyll & Bute Council

Craigendavie
Kelly Ferns

This Property had been empty since 2006 and due to the poor condition, lack of maintenance and repair by the previous owner a demolition order was served in 2007. The new owners bought the property and undertook extensive renovation works to bring it back into use as a high-end rental property.

No photo available
Finalist

Stirling Council

Troughstone Cottage
Allyson Allison

This property required long term involvement from the Empty Homes Officer both with the previous and current owner as well as other parties involved including the Police, the Fire Service and Building Services as well as the lender. They negotiated for the dangerous buildings work to be paid by for the lender. The Empty Homes officer was also able to provide support to the new owner to bring the property back to market.

3 Quarter Bank
Winner

Perth & Kinross Council

3 Quarter Bank
Andrew White & Jennifer Kent

The council’s Private Sector Housing Team worked closely with Abercairny Estate to bring another long-term empty property back into use through their Empty Homes Initiative Grant Scheme. The property became empty in early 2017 when the previous occupant could no longer sustain living there due to its condition and personal circumstances. Following on from a previous, successful Empty Homes project the Estate approach the council to see if the Quarter bank house could be brought back into use using the Empty Homes Initiative Grant Scheme. Help was provided and on completion of the works there was strong demand from prospective tenants as properties of this size and type rarely become available in this area of Perthshire. The property has now been tenanted by a young family.

People's Vote Finalists

Perth and Kinross restored building
Finalist

Perth and Kinross Council

A fantastic addition to affordable housing for the local people of Perth and Kinross. This empty office building in the heart of the city centre was converted into much needed 12 affordable one- and two-bedroom flats. Perth and Kinross Council supported this development with their interest free Empty Property Loan, Empty Homes Initiative Grant and Vacant Property Feasibility Fund.

YMCA students restoring a property
Winner

YMCA Glenrothes Empty Homes Programme

YMCA Glenrothes is a community hub based in the centre of Glenrothes. The YMCA have taken an innovative approach by transforming long term empty houses into affordable new homes for people who are homeless or at risk from homelessness. This project provides wrap around support from the “Y Family” and can help with employment opportunities, tenancy deposits and life skills. The project uses local college students as part of their renovation plan.

Barbara Crichton
Finalist

Barbara Crichton

Barbara became the Inverclyde Empty Homes Officer in May 2017. She has driven the Empty Homes service from a standing start to become a recognised Inverclyde wide scheme that is available to all for help, advice, guidance and support to both owners of empty properties and neighbours. Barbara has created a network of local contacts in estate agents and letting agents and has amassed a wealth of local knowledge regarding empty homes. Working in one of the smallest local authorities, she has brought back 10 empty properties to date.

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