SOUTH Lakeland District Council has revealed it has provided £300,000 in grants to a private landlord to help him convert two former Kendal pubs into flats.
The authority said the cash has been made available under a scheme to support owners of non-residential properties who want to turn them into affordable housing.
Grants up to £25,000 per new home are on offer. In return rents must be set at affordable rates for a minimum of five years and tenants selected from the council’s housing register. Remaining costs are met by the owner.
The aim is to help regenerate town centres by reducing empty properties and encouraging people to live in them at rents significantly below open market rents.
Last year SLDC granted £150,000 to landlord Bob Hogben to help him develop six affordable flats at the former Victoria Tavern in Longpool.
Now Mr Hogben has been given a further £150,000 to develop five one-bedroom flats and one two-bedroom flat for use as affordable housing at the former Prince of Wales Feather's in nearby Wildman Street. They are expected to be ready for occupation in January.
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The Victoria Tavern represented £25,000 per flat. The development was finished in May and there were 64 applicants for the six flats, which have now all been filled.
Mr Hogben said: "I spent the money on putting in special heating and doing extra work that has helped make it a really nice place to live for people. It really did work very well and the council helped me every step of the way."
New tenant Roy Atherton, 40, said he had been ‘sofa surfing’ with friends and families until he was able to move into the Victoria Tavern development four months ago.
“It’s a very nice spot and it is very nice and quiet,” he said. “It was a big weight off my shoulders because I have got a heart problem and the stress of the situation wasn’t helping me. It has made my life a lot easier.”
Coun Jonathan Brook, SLDC’s portfolio holder for strategic growth, said: “Affordable housing is one of the council’s key priorities and it has a mandate to provide affordable housing across the district.
“We are keen to encourage disused and under-used buildings to be brought back into use to meet the huge need for affordable homes in our area. This grant is one of the ways we can provide an incentive to make this happen. We want to encourage property owners to apply and make use of the money that is available for this purpose.”