Houses Into Homes Scheme Launched in Aberdare
A flagship Rhondda Cynon Taf Council project to transform an empty landmark building into homes and a successful business was used to announce the next phase of the Welsh Government’s Houses In To Homes investment scheme.
The work the Council has already delivered to date to transform empty – and often eyesore, derelict –shells of buildings into comfortable homes and usable spaces has secured national attention and acclaim.
So when it came to confirming a further £20m of the Welsh Government funding that was used to secure the housing success so far, it was only natural Rhondda Cynon Taf was chosen to host the announcement.
Communities and Tackling Poverty Minster, Lesley Griffiths, visited the beautiful Old Town Hall to launch the Home Improvement Loans scheme, which will offer funding to home owners and landlords to improve poor quality housing across Wales.
It was this funding stream – as well as investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Townscape Heritage Investment (THI) scheme and private investment – that was used to breathe new life into the Town Hall last year.
The £1m scheme saw the prominent town centre building regenerated, creating affordable homes and a popular coffee shop that has created employment opportunities and brought a vibrant new business into the town centre.
It is one of 25 projects that have secured Houses Into Homes funding via the Council in recent years.
Following this week’s announcement of further funding for property owners, the Council has pledged to continue securing external investment and using it innovatively to create much-needed affordable homes while also regenerating town centres and improving the overall environment of communities.
Lesley Griffiths AM said: "One of the biggest issues facing the housing sector at the moment is the lack of homes for sale or for rent. Empty homes are not only a wasted resource, but they can also attract vandalism and anti-social behaviour and can spoil the appearance of our neighbourhoods.
"I am delighted to announce our Home Improvement Loan programme is now open for business. This innovative scheme will improve poor quality housing across Wales – eliminating hazards which can cause harm to residents and health issues such as damp and cold.
"The success of our flagship Houses into Homes scheme must also be acknowledged. As well as bringing 4471 properties back into use, the scheme is also creating jobs in our construction industry. I hope this additional funding will build on this progress and give more families in Wales to opportunity to find a home.
"Today’s funding announcements clearly demonstrate our commitment to meeting Wales’ housing need."
Joining her at the launch were Cllrs Keiron Montague, Cabinet Member for Service Delivery, Communities and Housing and Cllr Robert Bevan, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Planning.
Cllr Montague said: “Good quality housing is so important as it can positively impact on health and prosperity and I welcome the Minister’s announcement today that significant funding is to be made available.
“We have a strong track record of attracting and making best use of external funding made available and as a Council we will now work hard with the Welsh Government to ensure residents in Rhondda Cynon Taf can benefit from the Home Improvement Loan scheme.
“The scheme will help to not only breathe new life into our housing stock to provide the homes our residents need and deserve, but also regenerate communities by removing empty eyesores that cause crime and disorder concerns as well as create new businesses and employment opportunities”
Cllr Bevan added: “Aberdare’s Old Town Hall is a perfect example of the innovative way in which we work to pull together funding opportunities to create a community asset.
“Some £1m from a range of sources, including Houses into Homes, was pulled together to create a town centre attraction including homes, a new business and employment opportunities.
“This particular project formed part of the wider £7.7m regeneration of Aberdare town centre, which has now been completed, to create a vibrant town centre and tourism destination for all to enjoy.”
If you are the owner of an empty property and do not live in it, you could be eligible for funding of up to £25,000 to bring the property back into use. This could be a house, flat, bedsit, chapel or church.
The £7.7m Aberdare Town Centre Regeneration project has been delivered by the Welsh Government through the European Regional Development Fund, Heads of the Valleys Programme and the Targeted Match Fund. The remainder of the funding package was provided by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Cadw and the private sector.