Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Argyll & Bute Council, South of Scotland Community Housing, and a Falkirk Council officer were the winners at the 11th Scottish Empty Homes Awards, sponsored by Auction House Scotland.
The awards, announced at the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership’s annual conference held on 22nd March at the COSLA Conference Centre, recognised the efforts of individuals, private businesses, and council staff in bringing 851 empty homes back into use over 2020/21.
The winners were as follows:
Best Before and After: Tong, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
This property had been left empty due to the last owner going into care. The property was brought to the Empty Homes Officer’s attention due to the overgrown garden and complaints about rodent infestation.
VAT discounts and company discounts were provided to assist the new owner with restoring the property, to the delight of the local residents in the area.
Murdo MacLeod, Empty Homes Officer at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said:
“We are delighted to accept the Best Before and After award at the 11th Scottish Empty Homes Conference this year. Empty homes often have challenging stories behind them, and to see the work of those who have made such an impact on transforming this home recognised is fantastic.”
Outstanding Individual: Elaine Hall, Falkirk Council
Elaine has worked in Empty Homes since 2016, and has assisted to bring 247 properties back into use. Elaine has done a fantastic job, particularly in engaging with vulnerable empty homeowners to provide support and assistance.
Elaine Hall, Empty Homes Officer at Falkirk Council, said:
“I’m very proud to receive the Outstanding Individual Award today at the Scottish Empty Homes Conference. The role of an Empty Homes Officer can be challenging but is always rewarding. I’m delighted to accept this award and for my fellow nominees also having their hard work recognised.”
Outstanding Team: Argyll & Bute Council
The housing team at Argyll & Bute Council are closely aligned and include an ‘empty homes working group’ who collaborate with the aim of unlocking long term empty homes. The council demonstrate what can be achieved when this type of work is included in housing strategies.
Kelly Ferns, Empty Homes Officer at Argyll and Bute Council, said:
“We are grateful to receive the Outstanding Team Award today at the Scottish Empty Homes Conference 2022. Tackling empty homes is often challenging and multifaceted, team collaboration is fundamental and we’re so proud to be recognised today amongst some quality teams in empty homes work.”
Best Old Wreck: South of Scotland Community Housing, Langholm Police Station
This project has repurposed a prominent town centre B-category listed building, disused for fifteen years and in a state of significant disrepair, as four community-led affordable homes. The outcome of the project is an outstanding restoration of a historical building, bringing two long-term empty homes back into use.
Mike Staples, Chief Executive, South of Scotland Community Housing said:
“We’re delighted to receive the award for best old wreck, best long-term restoration of an empty home. Working on empty homes, on existing buildings, is an opportunity to contribute towards net-zero in a way that is community-led. Restoring this historical building and bringing these empty homes back into use was an incredible effort, and we’re proud to have been recognised today.”
Shaheena Din, National Project Manager for the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, said:
“I am delighted for all of this year’s awards winners. They have shown an incredible effort in transforming communities through their work in bringing empty homes back into use.
We are so pleased that we could offer a hybrid event this year, allowing our awards to take place in person as well as opening up digital attendance following the success of last year.
We look forward to seeing what everyone involved in bringing empty homes back in to use will achieve in the next 12 months.”
John Loudon, Auction House Scotland, said:
“Auction House Scotland were proud to sponsor the Scottish Empty Homes Awards at the SEHP 2022 Conference.
The nominations in each of the categories were of a very high standard which made the ultimate winners even more deserving. Congratulations to the winners, but great credit to all who were nominated too.
The positive outcomes being delivered across the country are quite outstanding and is a testament to the hard work of the Empty Homes Officers in all areas.
Auction House Scotland are delighted to continue to support the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership and look forward to playing a part in many more future successes.”