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Tunbridge Wells Borough Council pledges £100k to No Use Empty Scheme

By Claire McWethy

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) has pledged £100,000 to a scheme which aims to bring derelict homes back into use.

The cash will go towards The No Use Empty initiative's interest-free loan scheme, which provides financial help to those looking to refurbish and redevelop housing that has been empty for more than six months.

It will mean owners of uninhabited properties can borrow an additional £15,000 on top of the £25,000 already available under the scheme, in order to unlock larger developments in the borough.

Boarded up homes. Stock image

Boarded up homes. Stock image

Since it was set up by Kent County Council (KCC) in 2005, the pioneering scheme has funded the refurbishment of more than 5,000 homes across the county, and has been used as a template for empty homes programmes by councils across the UK.

Steve Grimshaw, programme manager for No Use Empty at KCC, said: “In light of Theresa May making the housing crisis a national priority, empty houses are becoming increasingly valuable stock.

"No Use Empty provides the ideal model for bringing unused properties back onto the housing market, providing a much-needed supply of quality housing across local communities in Kent.”

Councillor Lynne Weatherly, TWBC cabinet member for communities and wellbeing, said: “The No Use Empty initiative has been a great success.

"We’ve seen dilapidated properties and long-term empty houses brought back into use, this is a good way of increasing available homes and improving the street scene for neighbours where a property has become an eyesore.”

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