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No Use Empty recognised at the 2011 Regeneration and Renewal Awards

The No Use Empty scheme was among the winners at the 2011 Regeneration and Renewal Awards, which recognises the best regeneration projects in the UK.

No Use Empty was the winner in the Partnership Working category, which received over 40 submissions. The other finalists included London Borough of Southwark, for their construction work at London Bridge Bankside, and North Solihull partnership, for their regeneration of North Solihull.

The judging panel described the No Use Empty scheme as “a highly effective partnership” that has been the catalyst in returning 1,677 empty homes back to use. Andy Karski, one of the judges and principal at Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design said, “It’s rare to be able to do this because it can be very difficult to get a coordinated view across a number of authorities.”

The judges also commended the scheme’s value for money, a measure by which all entries were judged. Of the 1,677 homes brought back into use, 274 have been supported by funding from the No Use Empty Loan Fund and all loans are repaid and recycled back into the scheme. Karski added, “They have managed to achieve an awful lot through management, persuasion and negotiation.”

Steve Grimshaw, Regeneration Project Manager for Kent County Council collected the award on the night. He said,

'We were delighted just to be short-listed for such a prestigious award, so to win is absolutely fantastic. What makes No Use Empty unique is that it is delivered by Kent County Council in partnership with all twelve local authorities across the County. By pooling our resources and expertise in this way, we have been able to bring a significant number of empty homes back into use at minimal cost since 2005. I am glad that everyone’s hard work over the past six years has been recognised, and the fact that various local authorities outside of Kent are keen to adopt the No Use Empty scheme is a further endorsement of our approach.'

Kevin Lynes, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development said,

'It is fantastic news for Kent that the No Use Empty Initiative has been awarded one of the most prestigious awards in the regeneration sector. We need to put empty homes to use to make sure we can meet the increasing demand for quality, affordable housing across the County.  Derelict houses also have an impact on the price of nearby occupied properties and serve as a magnet for crime and anti-social behaviour, so returning them to use has a positive impact on the community as a whole. The project is fortunate to have a team of dedicated individuals who are passionate about their work and their recognition is fully deserved.'

David Ireland, Chief Executive of national charity Empty Homes, joined the No Use Empty team at the awards dinner. He said,

'There are nearly a million empty homes across the UK, and the recent Party conferences have shown that tackling the issue is moving up the political agenda. We whole-heartedly support the No Use Empty scheme and believe Kent is setting an example to others of how to deal with the problem.'

Kent County Council Leader Paul Carter said, 'These awards recognise the invaluable contribution that Kent County Council is making towards regenerating our coastal towns in East Kent.

'The countywide No Use Empty project has already brought many disused properties back into use in Dover, Shepway, Swale and Thanet, through joint working between ourselves and the area's district councils.'

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404 empty properties were brought back into use in 2010/11 in Bristol.
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