New fund to help town centre regeneration

Arbroath High Street'Pic Neil Hanna

Arbroath High Street'Pic Neil Hanna

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Empty shops and properties which are blighting Scotland’s town centres could be transformed into affordable housing thanks to a new £4 million fund.

The Town Centre Empty Homes Fund will provide grant and loan funding to help increase the supply of housing in Scotland’s urban and rural towns.

The Fund, which will open for bids shortly, will offer funding to regenerate both homes which have been lying empty for long periods of time, and to convert empty commercial spaces into residential accommodation. The properties will then be available for affordable rent or sale.

It comes on top of the work of the Shelter Scotland managed Empty Homes Partnership which recently had its funding doubled and received a three year extension, to help bring more private sector empty homes back into use.

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess announced details of the new Fund at the Shelter Scotland Homelessness Conference. She said: “Making sure everyone has access to affordable homes where they can feel safe and warm, is a priority for the Scottish Government. But it’s not just about building new homes, we need to make better use of our existing housing stock and properties.

“It makes absolutely no sense for us to have more than 30,000 homes lying empty when homelessness still exists in Scotland.

“Empty shops and flats can be an eyesore in our communities, devaluing our properties and even encouraging anti-social behaviour.

“Bringing these empty properties back into use is a cost-effective way of increasing the supply of housing available to families across Scotland and it also aides community regeneration.

“By transforming derelict shops and flats into new homes, we will be able to inject some life back into our town centres and make them attractive places to live and work.”