Scheme launched to revive empty commercial units in Kent

An innovative programme to bring vacant commercial property back into use in Kent has won £1m from The Growing Places Fund (GPF) following a successful bid to the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) by Kent County Council.

The No Use Empty Commercial scheme will help redevelop eight commercial units and 28 residential above them in the town centres of Dover, Folkestone and Thanet by March 2022.

Interest-bearing loans over two-years are available to help developers bring forward projects which are of a larger scale, either as a top-up or to fund the whole scheme.

Christian Brodie, chair of SELEP, said: ‘This is an innovative scheme that will really make a difference to how our town centres look, and also their economic performance.

‘We all know that many town centres have struggled to respond to the competition from large retailers and they, in turn, are finding it hard to compete against online traders.

‘The result has been a reduction in footfall making many secondary streets in our town centres unsustainable, leaving pockets of empty shops, making those areas even less attractive to shop in and further damaging the trade of other retailers.’

The loans are secured and administered on a phased basis and interest is charged at market rates.

For more information on the scheme visit here.

In related news, a new scheme to tackle empty properties has been launched by vacant property specialists Orbis Protect and energy supplier E.ON.

The scheme will provide specialist clearance and cleaning of any empty properties, externally and internally.

Orbis Protect says they have has a skilled and experienced team already working with a number of social housing providers and currently deal with 100,000 empty properties each year.

E.ON is offering a free survey to private owners of empty properties to establish what is needed to bring the property back up to standard and once complete, can fully manage the refurbishment work to ensure the property is once again habitable

Thomas Barrett
Senior journalist - NewStart Follow him on Twitter


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