Coal shed that became a cosy cottage wins accolade

This one-bedroom cottage had been an abandoned coal shed
This one-bedroom cottage had been an abandoned coal shed
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A COAL shed in Orkney that was converted into a bijou one-bedroom cottage has been commended by a new scheme, which aims to bring empty buildings back into use.

• Old coal shed transformed into one-bedroom home has been hailed by new housing scheme aimed at making empty buildings habitable

The cottage had been a disused coal shed

The cottage had been a disused coal shed

• Shelter estimates there are 25,000 empty homes in Scotland

The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, run by Shelter Scotland, claims there are about 25,000 empty homes around the country that could be made habitable. Innovative projects for bringing disused properties back into use were celebrated yesterday at the Scottish Empty Homes Conference in Glasgow.

Housing minister Margaret Burgess announced further support for the scheme, saying: “Empty homes are a scar on the landscape in many cities and towns across Scotland. While building new, affordable housing is a key priority, making best use of existing stock is also important. Bringing empty homes back into use is a cost-effective way of increasing the supply of housing available to families across Scotland’s communities.”

The minister announced an additional £55,000 of funding to help local authorities work with property owners to bring buildings back into use.

Kristen Hubert, co-ordinator of the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, said: “Whatever the reason for an empty home – whether it’s because the owner has sentimental attachment to it or they simply don’t have the finances to carry out repair work – bringing empty homes back into use has many benefits.

“We hope to see other councils working together in this way to bring some of Scotland’s 23,000 long-term empty homes back into use.”

The accolade for Empty Homes Champion of the Year was awarded to the Homes Again Project, a collaboration between Fife, West Lothian, East Lothian the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway. The councils share two full-time empty homes officers, who have helped owners bring 11 empty properties back into use in the past six months.

Also commended for their work was Kevin Anderson, of South Ayrshire Council, who was a pioneer of the way local authorities can help bring empty properties back into use.

The lottery-funded Stromness Townscape Heritage Initiative in Orkney was also recognised for the way its conversions, which included the former coal shed, had made a huge difference to a small community by bringing several homes back into use. A total of seven properties in Stromness were converted back into living spaces.

Miriam Frier, strategic project officer for the initiative, said: “We are over the moon to have received a special mention for the fantastic work that has been done in Stromness to transform empty buildings into usable 
living and working spaces.”