Vacant units blight town centres

Fund will help turn empty shops into homes

empty shopsDevelopers are being invited to bid for a share of a £4 million government fund to turn empty shops into affordable homes.

As well as increasing the housing stock, the Town Centre Empty Homes Fund will help revitalise high streets blighted by vacant shops and other properties.

Winning bids can use the mix of loans and grants to regenerate long-vacant homes or convert empty commercial spaces into residential accommodation. The properties will then be available for affordable rent or sale.

The initiative follows work by the Shelter Scotland managed Empty Homes Partnership which recently had its funding doubled and received a three year extension, to help bring more private sector empty homes back into use.

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said: “It makes absolutely no sense for us to have more than 30,000 homes lying empty when homelessness still exists in Scotland.

“Empty shops and flats can be an eyesore in our communities, devaluing our properties and even encouraging anti-social behaviour.

“Bringing these empty properties back into use is a cost-effective way of increasing the supply of housing available to families across Scotland and it also aides community regeneration.

“By transforming derelict shops and flats into new homes, we will be able to inject some life back into our town centres and make them attractive places in which to live and work.”

The number of unoccupied properties (second homes and long term empty) is actually falling. Currently, 31,457 homes are recorded as being empty for six months or more.

The Town Centre Empty Homes Fund is a mix of £2m grant and £2m loan funding and aims to target “problem” empty homes and conversion of empty commercial space into residential.

The fund complements the other activities the Scottish Government is implementing through the Town Centre Action Plan.

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