A FIRE-RAVAGED terraced house once earmarked for demolition has been transformed into a desirable family home by local residents eager to give a run-down suburb back its sense of community.
When Middlesbrough CLT (Community Land Trust) Ltd, a not-for-profit group of volunteers, took over the derelict house in Gresham, Middlesbrough, it had no roof and syringes were found in the back yard.
But now – with its new fitted kitchen and bathroom, magnolia walls and tasteful carpets – the two-bedroom property on Union Street is the fifth to be salvaged in a ground-breaking scheme.
Ambitious plans for the major regeneration of Gresham were on the drawing board for a decade. To meet the demands of modern living and build new styles of housing, 1,453 properties were earmarked for demolition by Mayor Ray Mallon in 2005.
This was later reduced to 705 and in November last year it was announced that the 201 ‘phase B’ properties left in limbo for eight years would finally be saved.
An asset transfer from Middlesbrough Council saw three reprieved properties on Union Street transferred to MCLT and they have since become homes to two families and an elderly couple.
MCLT member, Gordon Mitchell said: “Having received a second round of Government funding, MCLT obtained a further two empty houses from Middlesbrough Council on a lease agreement this year, along with two empty shops which will be renovated into four one-bed flats with disabled access to both ground floors.
Gresham resident Mark Keenan single-handedly project managed the latest affordable housing revamp, which came in £1,000 under budget at £24,000.
He said he is thrilled with the end result: adding: “A house is a house, but what we need is to bring back the community spirit.
“A lot of people have moved away, but if we offer them the facility to move back or people want to come and live here we can help.
“We want to give somebody a home that they will want to stay in, but they are not going to stay if there is not a good community.”
Mr Keenan, who served in the army and is now a truck driver, had no prior experience of renovating properties.
Rent will be collected by Endeavour Housing and charged at 80 per cent of the local average, which will pay for the revamp within five years.
“We want to show it’s possible to transform a trashed terraced shell and do it economically,” he added.
MCLT is a not for profit group of local resident volunteers, who are in the process of refurbishing to Government standard, and bringing back into use, as many empty homes as possible, at affordable rental or sale, with all generated income going to the upkeep of houses and additional refurbishments.
Reporter Lucy Richardson, Northern Echo
Republished by kind permission of the Northern Echo