Conversion of former hotel into community housing among award winners

THE renovation of a former hotel in the south-west of Scotland has been named among the winners of awards celebrating the turning around of empty properties.

The C-listed Grapes Hotel, in Whithorn, had lain empty for 30 years before being taken up by local housing organisation, South of Scotland Community Housing, and converted into community housing.

The project was among the winners at the 12th Scottish Empty Homes conference, held yesterday.

It took the category prize, ‘Best use of empty homes work to create social/affordable housing’.

It is estimated there are more than 43,000 empty properties in Scotland. The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership is funded by the Scottish Government and hosted by housing charity, Shelter Scotland.

The other category prize winners:

Best retrofit of an empty home: Jameswood Villa, Argyll & Bute. Say the awards organisers (here): “This tenement of four flats sat empty for 20 years before being purchased by the current owners by accident at auction. They decided to keep the property and renovate it, focusing on maximising the efficiency of the building, and extending  its  longevity.”

Best use of data to inform empty homes practice: Matchmake-to-rent, Aberdeen City Council. Say the awards organisers: “Aberdeen City Council utilised local housing data to identify and solve gaps in the housing market and inform the creation of the Matchmake-to-Rent Scheme, which seeks to match private housing with tenants. This scheme has helped bring 146 properties have now been brought back into use.”

Empty homes ‘rising star’: Michelle Morrison, Dundee. “Michelle was appointed as Empty Homes Officer in 2021, after the post had been vacant for nearly three years. Michelle has already brought 19 properties back in to use and is actively working with around ten per cent of Dundee’s empty home owners.”

Special recognition award: Andrew White. “The special recognition award recognised the contribution made by Andrew White, of Perth and Kinross to housing and empty homes, throughout a career that has seen him work across several councils, from Edinburgh to the Western Isles, as well as a number of housing associations.”

Picture credit: Orbit Communications

Comments are welcome – only courteous ones (as per our T&Cs) – but they can only be posted by signed-in members. To sign up, for as little as £12 a year, please go here. Please note, comments appear following moderation (so expect a delay when submitting).