- Derelict buildings in Stoke, Staffordshire are being sold for a nominal fee in a bid to reinvigorate the area
- With thousands of empty buildings in the area, the living standards are down and crime rates up
- Part of a £30m scheme, a £30,000 low interest loan is part of the deal
- The scheme is funded by Stoke-on-Trent Council and the government
- A house in Ferryhill, County Durham is for sale for just £2,500 which could be Britain’s cheapest house
When it comes to buying a house in Britain’s cheapest street, one pound is all you need.
Desperate to fill and fix up derelict buildings in Stoke, Staffordshire, the local council is trying to attract tenants by giving away property for a nominal fee to turn the fortunes around for the crime-ridden area.
As well as a boarded-up building, the owner will receive a £30,000 low interest loan to renovate the property as part of the £3 million scheme funded by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the government.
The only catch is that the owner must renovate the house and live there five years before it can be sold.
The properties for sale, which have two to three bedrooms and a backyard, are in a variety of conditions from liveable to desperately needing refurbishment.
Council bosses believe the abandoned buildings are bringing down living standards and raising crime rates by attracting arson attacks, squatters, burglary as well as devaluing and damaging nearby properties.
Abandoned houses are a huge problem in the area with some 4,000 buildings left empty in Stoke as of January 2011, according to council tax data.
ABANDONED HOUSES IN STOKE
- Total empty houses: 4,763
- Empty for more than six months: 2,793
- Empty for less than six months: 1,970
Source: Stoke-on-Trent Council Tax data January 2011
The council’s empty house team aims to ‘bring long term empty homes back into use to improve the standard of housing in the city and to bring life back into our communities’ according to the council website.
In Staffordshire, Councillor Janine Bridges, cabinet member for housing, neighbourhoods and community safety, said: ‘We are looking at ways to bring empty properties back into use to improve the living standards of homes within Stoke-on-Trent.
‘The idea would mean the council sells empty properties acquired with Housing Market Renewal Grant for a nominal fee and provide new home owners with a loan of up to £30,000 to implement a series of improvement works that the council deems necessary to bring the property back to a decent home standard.’
The scheme is focusing on Stoke properties in the Portland Street area, Cobridge and the Bond Street area, Tunstall.
The council’s plan is due to be approved later this year and set to launch in 2013.
Local resident John Bannister, 72, said: ‘At the moment there is vandalism, people using the back yards of empty houses for fly-tipping and all kinds of problems.
‘There are 18 empty houses just on Bond Street. We want families to come in and stay. Something needs to be done.’
One council tenant, Slovakian immigrant Gabriel Litavec, says the move would help him to get on the property ladder.
The 50-year-old factory worker, who arrived in the country in 2005, has been living in a council-owned property in Denbigh Street, for the last three years.
The father-of-two and former teacher hopes to buy one of the vacant properties along the street.
He said: ‘It is a good chance to get on the property ladder and own my own house.
‘If I am able to buy a house and refurbish it I can make it how I want it to be. I think there are far too many boarded-up houses in the area.’
The cheap street scheme comes as a house in Ferryhill, County Durham is set to be sold at auction for £2,500 in what could be the cheapest house in Britain reflecting actual market value.
Auctioneers Robinsons Auctions described the two bedroom house as ‘in need of full refurbishment but offers great potential for developers and landlords’ on their website.
Even after a complete renovation, the property is still only estimated to fetch £30,000.
Jamie Cooke, from auctioneers iam-sold said: ‘It needs a lot of work but the price reflects that.’
While there are no bids as of yet, the auction is set to go ahead on Thursday.
The LSL House Price Index suggested in July that house prices fell for the first time on a monthly basis since last year and transaction levels fell to the second lowest monthly level since 1995, according to the LSL House Price Index.