Empty Homes Agency (funding complete)

Funding at a glance

Amount: £79,950 grant
Approved: 2014
Status: Funding complete

Using funding from the Nationwide Foundation, a research report by the campaigning charity Empty Homes has explored how creating affordable homes from empty commercial spaces can be both viable and attractive.

Although there are undoubtedly a number of challenges in successfully creating new housing through this route, there are also significant opportunities – not just in terms of affordable housing, but in terms of wider community benefits. These include reducing blight, improving the vibrancy of the local environment, and enabling owners to make better use of their property assets.

The research, launched in July 2016, makes clear that where commercial property has a long-term viable future for its existing use, this should be maintained. The research does not suggest “poaching” property from the commercial sector to the residential sector. However, with high levels of long-term empty commercial space languishing in many areas where people are priced out of decent housing, conversion to affordable homes can make sense.

Interestingly, the research found few cases where structural issues created a major impediment to conversion to housing. More often, the challenges are around perceptions on the part of the owners of property, who may not realise its potential to be brought into housing use in an economically viable way.

The research draws on case studies of local authority partnerships which have been successful in converting empty commercial spaces into affordable homes. It also makes a number of recommendations to local authorities and government to enable more of this type of conversion in the future.

The full report can be accessed here.


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