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£1.6m revamp set to house homeless in Leeds

By Simon Crowe

A LEEDS CHARITY is set to buy and renovate 16 long term empty properties to create new high-quality affordable homes for homeless people.

Leeds Action to Create Homes (Latch) has been granted £1.1 million from ethical bank Triodos and a £500k grant from Leeds City Council to complete the project over the next 18 months.

It comes as it was reported yesterday that a government report revealed that West Yorkshire has more than 11,000 empty houses in the region, the largest in the county.

James Hartley, the chief executive officer at Latch, doesn’t feel the blame for this lies with the council.

He said: “The council has virtually zero empty properties, it has a turnover of units but it’s these private sector properties that are the challenge.”

Empty Homes doctor is a not-for-profit social enterprise that works with Leeds City Council. They deal with private owners who don’t know what to do with their properties.

Gill Coupland, from Empty Homes Doctor, said: “They’re almost like accidental empty home owners a lot of them.

“Some people are inexperienced first time investors you know people who’ve watched Homes Under The Hammer and think they can do something like that. Then end up realising it was much more of a responsibility that they were prepared for.”

One way councils try to tackle the issue of privately owned unoccupied houses is by issuing compulsory purchase order to owners, but this is a process councils try to avoid.

Gill Coupland said: “You have to justify why a property has to be issued a CPO. There never will be a circumstance where you wouldn’t have to provide a lot of evidence to justify it was the only thing to do.”

An empty, derelict house transformed into a fantastic home from Latch on Vimeo.

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