We have joined Kent County Council's No Use Empty (NUE) scheme which is the longest-running empty property initiative in the country.
Latest council tax records show that there are a total of 6,798 long-term vacant dwellings in Kent alone. However, without the 500 properties per year which NUE is returning to use, the number of long-term empty properties would be significantly higher.
Medway’s figure for long-term vacant properties is 1,573.
The NUE team has seen an unprecedented increase in loan applications over the last 18 months with 63 individual loans being awarded with a value of £9.6million. This means a further 166 homes will soon be back into use providing much-needed homes across the county.
Since 2005 NUE has recycled loans to the value of £43million which has leveraged an additional £37million from the public/private sectors, making a total of £80million investment into tackling the problem of empty homes.
The programme is delivered by KCC in partnership with all 12 district councils in the county.
Helping turn a house into someone's home
Cllr Howard Doe, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Housing, said: “I am pleased that we have joined the No Use Empty Scheme which will help bring empty properties in Medway back into use, providing much-needed homes for residents. I would encourage residents with empty properties to find out more about the scheme and how we can help them turn their house into someone’s home.”
Helping deliver homes
KCC’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Derek Murphy, said: “No Use Empty has been combating the on-going problem of empty homes through a variety of interventions with impressive results. In these challenging times initiatives such as this are becoming increasingly important. We realised that the scheme could be replicated and are pleased to announce that Medway Council are our latest partner to join us. This is a tremendous boost for our nationally recognised NUE brand which continues to go from strength to strength and now has banket coverage across Kent and Medway. NUE is ready to administer new loan applications and help Kent’s economy recover as well as delivering the homes required.”
Loan products offered by NUE are:
- Interest Free Loans – Funding available to help owners/developers refurbish/convert empty homes or redundant commercial buildings to provide good quality residential accommodation. On completion properties must be made available for sale or rent. Loans are secured as a first or second charge and offered over 2 or 3 years.
- Top Up Loans – Folkestone & Hythe DC, Dover DC and Tunbridge Wells BC have allocated funds to offer and additional £15k on top of the NUE loan of £25k providing up to £40k per unit to help with refurbishment costs.
- Live Margate - The focus of the project is regeneration by converting or redeveloping poorly managed, dilapidated, or vacant HMOs into quality family homes (target of 66 homes to be created). NUE has an allocation of £2.9m from the Live Margate project.
- NUE Commercial - In 2018, KCC was awarded £1m Growing Places Fund (GPF) for the NUE Commercial project Funding allocated over two financial years. The project aims to return long-term empty commercial properties to use, for residential, alternative commercial or mixed-use purposes. A further £2m was awarded from GPF for a second phase to be launched 2021-22.
- Interest Bearing Loans – Subject to the level of funds available interest-bearing loans have been introduced to help developers bring projects which are of a larger scale either as a top up or to fund the whole scheme. Loans are secured and administered on a phased basis and interest will be charged at market rates.
- New Build Loans – Subject to the level of funds available interest-bearing loans have been introduced to help developers bring forward smaller plots of land which have planning permission for new build homes. Loans are secured as a first and only charge on title, interest charged at market rates and collected quarterly basis.
All funding is subject to availability.