Watch: Empty home transformed

Published on: Tuesday, 04-March-2014

You can now see for yourself how an empty property, which was once a blot on the landscape in Whiston, has been transformed thanks to an innovative approach by Knowsley Council.

The latest video on Knowsley Council’s YouTube channel charts the progress made on the two-bedroom home on St Nicholas Road in Whiston.

For eight years, the home had lain empty and uncared for until Knowsley Council’s Strategic Housing secured a little-used legal power to take control of the property and bring it back into use.

Officers used the Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO) to secure the two bedroom house and appointed a contractor to carry out a wide range of improvement works.

The action followed repeated attempts by the council to engage with the owner of the property and allow them sufficient time to carry out the necessary works themselves.

When the owner failed to do so, the council successfully applied to the Residential Property Tribunal for an EDMO.

Knowsley Council has successfully used EDMOs on a number of occasions to bring empty properties back into use and is the only authority in the Liverpool City Region to do so.

After overseeing the improvements, the Strategic Housing team handed the property over to Knowsley Housing Trust to manage. The house has now been let out to tenant Elaine McNally, who has downsized from a four bedroom house and now lives in the property with her daughter.

Elaine said: “In my old house I had the stress of thinking about where the money was going to come from to pay the bedroom tax for the rest of my life and it was too much. Coming into this house was great and I really feel like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders since being here.

“When I first came to view the house with my daughter, I was absolutely delighted. The fact that all the work had been done to it took away a lot of the stress of moving. There is a lovely feel to the house and I felt at home right away.”

Knowsley Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Economy and Skills, Cllr Dave Lonergan, said: “I’m delighted that our approach to this property has been so successful.

“We have a clear strategy aimed at bringing empty properties in Knowsley back into use and we use a range of innovative methods to achieve that goal. In this instance, we have removed a blight from the community, turned a problem property into a lovely family home and helped a resident downsize to take them out of the bedroom tax.

“This is a great example of how our approach to dealing with empty properties in the borough resolves the issue to everyone’s benefit.”

Knowsley Housing Trust’s Executive Director of Customer Excellence, Ian Thomson, said: “We are really pleased that we have been able to help Elaine avoid the Government’s bedroom tax and this is one way in which KHT are supporting customers do this.

“Thanks to our partnership work with Knowsley Council, we have also been able to remove a blight from the community and provide Elaine and her family with a home for many years to come.”