Learners turn empty houses into new homes

Proud PM Training learners celebrated their conversion of an empty property into an attractive three bedroom home which is now ready for new occupants who are on the Newcastle housing register. This is the first of a pilot scheme aimed at tackling the blight of empty homes.

Castle Hill Road youth refurbishment projectThe Aspire Group’s Youth Refurbishment project is an exciting and cost effective method of bringing disused properties back into use so they can meet local housing need.

Three houses are being renovated under a pilot scheme, using £105,000 funding from Renew North Staffordshire, the former housing market renewal pathfinder, and its own resources.

The project works by using apprentices and young learners from PM Training to carry out work such as stripping out existing fittings, plastering, decorating, joinery, carpeting, improving driveways and gardens. Structural alterations, central heating, and electrics are carried out by specialist contractors who will also employ apprentices from PM Training.

The property is then rented for social housing by Aspire Housing to an applicant on the Newcastle-under-Lyme or Stoke-on-Trent waiting lists.

The first of the three properties to be completed is in Castle Hill Road, just north of the town centre of Newcastle-under-Lyme. Formerly a business, this property has been transformed into a spacious three bedroom home, complete with a new fitted kitchen

and bathroom with one of the bedrooms having an en suite with a shower. It also has room for parking and a good-sized garden at the back.

Will Nixon, Chief Executive of PM Training, said: “Everyone’s a winner with the Youth Refurbishment Project. We cut the number of empty houses, the apprentices gain the skills and experience to help them find full time work, and we provide social housing for those in need.”

Apprentice Tom Easto said: “It was great working on this project as I enjoyed seeing how an old shop could be converted into a home. I got a lot out of it in the last four months and have learnt so much about construction and refurbishment.”

Cllr Robin Studd, Cabinet member for regeneration and planning, said: “Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council fully supports this excellent initiative.

“Empty properties brought back into use in this way provide much-needed affordable homes for families on the borough’s waiting list while improving young people’s skills and aspirations in the local area.

“There are also many other benefits for local communities such as improving the appearance of neighbourhoods, reducing crime and anti-social behaviour, increasing trade for local shops and businesses and increasing the value of neighbouring homes.”

The second property is a terraced home in King William Street, Tunstall, which has been bought and is under renovation. The third property will soon be purchased.