As a community construction charity, PHASES needs to keep abreast of any changes in policy which might impact our affordable housing projects. As a training organisation, we’re conscious that our courses need to reflect industry needs, so that our trainees have reelvant skills. As a social enterprise, we’re busy finding ways to share best practice and to be more effective. Here’s what we’ve been doing lately to keep up to date in the fast-paced construction sector.
PHASES has completed the purchase of its first property in London. This is a 4-bed house in Beckton, East London. This was partly financed by grant funding from the Empty Homes Community Grants Programme and partly by borrowing from The Big Issue Invest, a social enterprise lender which is an offshoot of the Big Issue magazine.
PHASES has completed the purchase of four empty properties in the Worthing and Littlehampton areas. The three 3-bed houses and one 1-bed flat were purchased using grant funding under the government’s Empty Homes Community Grants Programme together with borrowing from Unity Trust Bank Plc. The properties will all be renovated for use as social housing by early 2015. These are the first properties ever to be purchased by the charity.
A one bedroom flat in Kennington has been completed by PHASES under the Empty Homes Community Grants Programme. The flat had been empty for over 5 years, having been left by the owner when his wife had died. Over the years the owner had found it harder and harder to return until one of our volunteers painstakingly went through all of the belongings he had left behind with him. Renovation work was then able to start and the flat now provides high quality accommodation for social rent.
Work has been completed on PHASES’ largest project to date – the renovation of a derelict Victorian house on Brockley Grove. The property had been empty for over 20 years and work was funded partly from the Empty Homes Community Grants Fund and partly from Lewisham Council. Work took approximately one year and provided construction training opportunities for six trainees. Two former trainees were also employed on site by the building contractor. The property now provides two great flats (one 3-bed and one 4-bed) for two families who were previously in poor quality overcrowded accommodation. An opening event took place in August with over 50 guests. Councillor Susan Wise, attending for Lewisham, stated: “I am very pleased to see this problematic long term empty being brought back into life. PHASES have not only worked hard to repair this property but have given work experience opportunities to apprentices to develop their knowledge and skills in the building trade’’.
PHASES has been successful in its bid to Round Two of the government’s Empty Homes Community Grants Programme. Funding of £590k has been secured from the Department of Communities and Local Government to purchase three properties in the Lewes, Brighton & Hove and Adur & Worthing Council areas. This second round of funding had a slant towards bringing empty commercial premises back into use as residential accommodation. The planned centrepiece project is conversion of a disused light-industrial building in Peacehaven to provide 21 bedspaces.
Work has been completed to renovate an empty four bedroom flat at Glazebrook Close, West Dulwich. It had been empty for over a year and required total stripping out and refurbishment. The flat has now provided a home for a lady who had been living in a hostel and who had been separated from her two teenage sons for a number of years. The family are all now back living together in this flat.
We have been successful in our bid to the Empty Homes Community Grants Programme. Funding of £238k has been secured from the Department of Communities and Local Government to renovate nine properties in Southwark and Lewisham over 2012-15. These properties will provide a wealth of training opportunities for our trainees over the next three years.
On 24th January, the Communities Minister Andrew Stunell formally launched the Empty Homes Community Grants Programme. Under this Programme, up to £30M will be accessible by community groups to renovate empty properties over 2012-15. We shall be putting in a bid and were delighted that the Minister referred to PHASES in his announcement at City Hall. You can see the full press release on the Government’s website at:
In March 2011 we appeared on the BBC 1 programme Britain’s Empty Homes. The programme featured our work at the flat in Brayards Road, Peckham, which was completed in June 2010. The work included removal of an internal wall and installation of new bathroom and central heating system. Three of our homeless trainees worked on the project. The flat is now let out to a single mum and her young son.
The programme edited out our name but it does refer to a “social enterprise charity” and there is a short interview with our training manager, Stuart Allen. See the clip below: