New loans for long-term empty properties in Tunbridge Wells

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to offer loans to owners to help bring unused properties back into use.Owners of properties in the borough that are currently lying empty and unused will now be able to apply for interest-free loans in order to renovate them and bring them back into use. 

Tunbridge Wells already participates in the “No Use Empty” scheme, which was launched in 2005 by Kent County Council in a bid to tackle the escalating housing shortage across the county.

Under the scheme, district and borough councils, in partnership with Kent County Council, provide owners of run-down, unused properties with the necessary information and advice to return them to use.

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council is now going a step further by adopting the Loan Fund element of the scheme, which is operated by Kent County Council and offers owners interest-free loans to cover the cost of repairs and renovations.

The decision means that owners in Tunbridge Wells will now be able to apply for loans of up to £175,000.

Kevin Lynes, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development at Kent County Council said:
“It is great news that Tunbridge Wells will now be participating in the Loan Scheme. 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. We welcome loan applications from owners of empty properties across Tunbridge Wells who want to take positive action.”

Cllr Paul Barrington-King Sustainability Portfolio Holder said:
“There are approximately 200 properties which have remained empty for over 2 years in the borough and which are of real concern. We are committed to reducing this number.
A target to return 20 empty properties back into use through a range of options, including advice, guidance and if necessary enforcement, has been established for this year. The financial support now available from No Use Empty will provide some assistance for owners of properties in need of renovation, to bring them back in to use and help meet local housing needs.”

No Use Empty has delivered 1,677 new homes across Kent since its launch in 2005, and has attracted national recognition as an innovative solution to the long-standing problem of empty homes. In April, Bristol City Council announced it would be the first local authority outside Kent to adopt the scheme.

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