“The Empty Homes project emphasises our shared ambition to drive up private rented housing standards in North Ormesby, and bring empty properties back into use.
“But this initiative is much more than that. As well as creating much-needed quality housing, this project is providing opportunities for work and training to local people, with the aim of equipping them for future employment. I’m confident this will provide a blueprint for other areas.”
North Ormesby Community Land Trust serves as an example of grass roots community action working alongside and reinforcing local authority partnership. Partnering and collaborating with a range of partners across different sectors it demonstrates a ‘can do’ approach to bringing empty homes back into use at a time when direct access to public funding is limited to being a registered provider since the end of the EHCGP.
The area is ranked the second highest area of multiple deprivation in the country. It has experienced high levels of long-term empty homes and low housing demand. Housing associations in the area struggled with high levels of voids and looked to resolve their problem through stock rationalisation and disposal of properties.
North Ormesby received a £1 million fund as part of the national Big Local programme. The CLT came about in response to findings from a Big Local resident survey. This identified the decline in rented housing, in particular the private sector, was the biggest issue in the local area and that there was a desire for the local community to have a greater stake in housing.
The CLT was established in 2014 as Big Local Partnership with North Ormesby Neighbourhood Development Trust Established (NONDET), a charity established in 1999, providing a wide range of community services from childcare, local broadband and managing the local traders market.
NONDet and the role of the CLT has helped support the councils Private Sector Team and the Selective Licencing Scheme to tackle poor conditions in the private rented sector and improve housing management practice in the area. They offer a letting agency management service for private rented accommodation in the local area and have extended its letting agency management services and has also secured a contract to manage up to 30 properties for a period of five years on behalf of Middlesbrough Council.
Partnership working has extended their role to help address multiple issues affecting the neighbourhood. This partnering has led to involvement with the council, Cleveland police, the fire authority and the clinical commissioning group to co-ordinate local interventions in relation to community safety and health and well-being.
They have developed their role from delivering property face lifts with free hanging baskets to improve the appearance of streets to becoming a landlord, acquiring assets, an income stream and increased ability to make an impact in the area.
The CLT has acquired and refurbished 10 properties in a partnership arrangement with a registered provider and two Community-led Housing construction services based in the Tees Valley. The properties where purchased from Accent Housing
Association at below at below market value. This provided Accent the alternative to disposing of their assets on the open market with risk of
private investors purchasing and adding to challenges already being presented in the private sector.
£128,000 of the Big Local grant funding was used to purchase the assets from Accent. Funding of
the refurbishment was achieved through the partnership arrangement with local registered provider, Thirteen Group who secured Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). This permitted the use of Housing for Rent Scheme grant funding of
£24,000 per property to bring them up to acceptable standards.
Refurbishment work was carried involving a partnership of local organisations active inCommunity-led Housing which also delivered training and work experience for local young people. This partnership involved Community Campus 87 and Opening Doors (Hartlepool NDC Trust). The properties now provide tenancies with a policy prioritising local people. The future offers the possibility of redeveloping a derelict church site to include one-bedroom properties and new permanent offices for the CLT.
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