Hundreds more people in the Dover district now have a place to call home – thanks to a scheme to bring empty properties back into use.
Developers who want to spruce up run-down buildings have been helped by council loans.
Millions of pounds have been invested in the district and I got to see first-hand how areas of Dover have been transformed.
I met with Cllr Pauline Beresford, the district council's portfolio holder for housing, and entrepreneur Victor Evans.
Mr Evans built the Breakwater Brewery and Taproom, as well as five houses and seven flats on a brownfield site at St Martin's Yard in Lorne Road with the support of the council.
Cllr Beresford also showed me a number of properties in London Road which have been renovated.
Property developers like Mr Evans can access Kent County Council's No Use Empty scheme, which provides interest free loans. Dover District Council backs the scheme by offering top-up loans of £15,000.
In 2009, there were 952 homes in the district left empty for more than six months. This had plummeted to 523 by 2017. In the 2017/18 financial year, 30 properties were brought back into use.
A total of £4.8 million has been invested in the Dover district through the No Use Empty scheme since 2005.
Pauline and the district council have done incredible work in reducing the number of empty homes in our area.
This is such vital work – sprucing up derelict buildings and giving hundreds more people the chance to find a home locally.
It also gives entrepreneurs like Victor the chance to completely transform an area, as he has done with his micropub and new homes in Lorne Road.
We need to do everything we can to support people who want to make Dover and Deal a better place.
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