Ruth Mitchell

Spirit Partnership to receive £2.9m renovation funding

Derelict houses on Teesside are set to receive a revamp thanks to a £2.9 million Government grant to extend its successful Empty Homes scheme.

The Spirit Partnership will be led by Coast & Country, and will look to refurbish around 205 properties in Redcar, Cleveland, Stockton and Hartlepool.

It will also provide training opportunities for those seeking construction work experience by working with a number of educational social enterprises including Community Campus, East Cleveland Youth Housing Trust, Opening Doors and Five Lamps.

The scheme was originally established when Coast & Country joined forces with Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, Community Campus 87 and East Cleveland Youth Housing Trust to bring long-term empty properties back into use.

Last year 11 homes were brought back into use through the scheme, while a further 29 properties will be completed by the end of March. 30 trainees are currently working on the projects.

Communities Minister Andrew Stunell announced that more cash was to be dedicated to the scheme after visiting one of the renovated properties in Redcar last year.

Commenting on the initiative, he said: “Coast & Country’s collaborative approach reflects exactly what the Government, which is determined to overcome the affordable homes shortfall, wants to see happening in local communities.”

Iain Sim, chief executive of Coast & Country has welcomed the additional funding to continue and extend the Empty Homes scheme.

“Our pioneering Empty Homes project has been an outstanding success delivering three benefits in one solution so it is satisfying to see the Government helping other organisations to follow our lead.” He said.

“The scheme not only provides residents with a high quality homes for an affordable rent, but brings rundown properties, which have a detrimental visual impact on the neighbourhood, back into use and the renovation also gives local trainees the chance to develop skills which will help them find work in the future.”

Mr Stunnel made the decision to award Spirit Partnership with extra funding in a bid to tackle the empty homes scandal, whilst also creating more affordable housing in neglected neighbourhoods.

He added: “The number of empty homes in this country is a national disgrace - for every two families that need a home there is one standing empty.

“Too often a blight on communities, these abandoned homes can be transformed to provide much needed affordable housing, create jobs and breathe life back into neglected neighbourhoods.

Many of the successful projects will provide housing for individuals who are currently at risk of homelessness, whilst also providing employment to local people.

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