Housing Minister, Huw Lewis, recently visited the old police station in the heart of Abergavenny to see how the Welsh Government’s Houses into Homes scheme is enabling local people to create their own solutions to local housing issues.
Thanks to the Welsh Government loans, administered by Monmouthshire County Council, local developer Anthony Davies has been able to convert the disused police station into five self-contained flats.
The Minister said,
“Interest in Houses into Homes continues to gather pace and I have been overwhelmed by the response to the scheme so far. Credit must be paid to the hard work carried out behind the scenes in local authorities.
“I find it extremely gratifying to see the difference that this innovative scheme can have to local communities. In this case, a disused building which will provide five units of much-needed accommodation to the local area.”
Disused properties are a blight on the landscape, and can potentially lead to further problems with antisocial behaviour and various environmental health hazards.
The Minister continued,
“This scheme galvanises my strong belief that, with a little bit of assistance, real difference can be made to local communities, by local people.”
The £10m Houses into Homes fund was launched in April last year and provides interest free loans to owners of empty dwellings (more than 6 months) in order to bring the properties back into use for sale or rent. Local authorities are working collaboratively, through six regional groups, in order to share best practice and maximise the number of empty dwellings they can bring back into use.
As the scheme, the first of its kind in the UK, provides loans and not grants, when repaid, the money will be recycled to provide further assistance to return other empty properties to use. The scheme is therefore potentially self-financing for years to come, maximising the effectiveness of the resources available.