Home from home on estate

Pictured (from left): New tenant Michael Atkinson, Cllr Tom Brechany executive member for housing at Northumberland County Council, Laura de Wesselow from Belsay Estates, Cllr Richard Dodd, county councillor for Ponteland North ward and Christine Cowans, empty homes officer with the council.
Pictured (from left): New tenant Michael Atkinson, Cllr Tom Brechany executive member for housing at Northumberland County Council, Laura de Wesselow from Belsay Estates, Cllr Richard Dodd, county councillor for Ponteland North ward and Christine Cowans, empty homes officer with the council.

PERSISTENCE paid off in bringing an empty Northumberland property back into use.

A former police house in Belsay is now being rented by a family thanks to joint working between Northumberland County Council’s housing team, which deals with long-term empty homes, Belsay Estates and a local councillor.

The property had been vacant since 2005 and making it available for people to live in was a complicated process due to restricted covenants and freehold issues.

With encouragement from the local authority, Belsay Estates bought the building in August 2011.

The council then got in touch again to discuss bringing the property under the landlord accreditation scheme, guaranteeing a quality standard for private rented accommodation.

And following a total refurbishment, the house was accredited and let to the Atkinson family earlier this year.

Laura de Wesselow, from Belsay Estates, said: “It is has been a long battle to bring the police house back into the estate’s ownership and we are thrilled that in doing so we are able to provide another affordable home in the Belsay area.

“We were delighted to work with the county council on this project and totally support its efforts to bring empty properties back into use.”

Michael Atkinson said: “We are very pleased with our new home. We have always wanted to live in this house and were so sad to see it empty for so long.

“We would like to thank Belsay Estates and the council for the work they have done, which has made this property available to us.”

The authority is working on a number of measures that will help to return longer-term empty private residential properties back into use.

Doing so will increase Northumberland’s available housing stock, including the number of affordable homes.

Ponteland North county councillor Richard Dodd said: “Bringing empty houses back into use has been a particular passion of mine.

“I have been supporting the work to bring this property in my ward back into use so I am particularly pleased to see that it has provided a new home for Michael and his family, as well as freeing up another house in the area.”

If you know of an empty property that you think could be brought back into use, contact Northumberland County Council’s ‘existing stock’ team on 01670 532210 or 01670 532214.