No Use Empty, launched by Kent County Council, has seen large reduction in empty homes

An initiative which specialises in the restoration of abandoned properties has seen a reduction of empty homes across Kent, as they conclude a strong year.

No Use Empty (NUE) was launched by Kent County Council in 2005 - and the scheme has brought 3,907 properties back into use over the past six years, seeing a 42% reduction of empty homes in the county.

Over the past 12 months, the initiative has made 587 homes fit for purpose again, after being empty long-term.

Before the work was conducted in Dover Road, Shepway
Before the work was conducted in Dover Road, Shepway

NUE secures interest free loans, of up to £175,000, which are repayable in three years in order to aid those who wish to revive units.

The scheme has a total investment to date of £30.6m, with £13.6m coming from from KCC’s Empty Homes Recyclable Loan Fund. The average KCC loan stands at £20,663 per unit, just a fraction of the cost of new-build properties.

The project has managed to secure £8.7m of the total New Homes Bonus for Kent to help them continue with their work - the sum represents 10% of the total £88.2m received.

No Use Empty was launched in partnership with four local authorities, Shepway, Dover, Thanet and Swale, but now has the backing of all 12 in the county.

Work No Use Energy conducted on a house in Dover Road, Shepway
Work No Use Energy conducted on a house in Dover Road, Shepway

Mark Dance, Kent County Council’s cabinet member for economic development, said: “The issue of empty homes is an important one. Dilapidated and unused properties directly affect the social and economic status of communities, as they can depreciate the value of adjacent properties by 18%.

"The work that No Use Empty is conducting is counteracting this, having a positive regenerative effect on communities.”

The regeneration project manager for No Use Empty said: “It has been yet another great year for No Use Empty. The initiative is gaining momentum and achieving the goals it set out to reach.

"We are seeing a steady decline in empty homes but are always looking for new projects to get involved in. We hope that No Use Empty will continue to grow, improving communities around the county, and beyond that, the country.”

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