National Empty Homes week (28 Nov to 4 Dec) was marked in Brent with an official opening ceremony on Friday 2 December for a formerly empty commercial building which now provides 17 new units of social housing.
Brent Council worked with the owner of Prospect House in Stonebridge to bring the property which had been empty and in disrepair back into use. The building had been empty since 2011 when the owner, Mr Jagan Vohra, contacted the Council in 2015 after hearing about the Empty Property Grant Scheme.
The building work took a year to complete and the property now provides 17 homes which are managed by Shepherds Bush Housing Association. The homes are a mix of studio, one bedroom and two bedroom flats and all have been fitted with modern kitchens and bathrooms. Many of the residents were previously homeless and had been living in bed and breakfast accommodation.
Prospect House is just one success story for the Local Authority who have returned over 100 empty properties into use in the last year alone.
The Leader of Brent Council, Councillor Muhammed Butt, and Mayor of Brent Council, Councillor Parvez Ahmed, attended the official ceremony with representatives from Shepherds Bush Housing Association, accompanied by the owner of the property and some of the residents.
Councillor Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council, said:
"The lack of affordable housing is the single biggest challenge in Brent and this project is a brilliant example of working in partnership with a landlord and a housing association. This collaboration with Shepherds Bush Housing Association has provided accommodation which is providing a decent future for families and young people and we want to do more work like this."
Donna Shepherd, Director of Housing Services, Shepherds Bush Housing Association, said:
"I am delighted to be working with Brent and providing homes for people in need. This is a great example of partnership working with a landlord and a local authority."
Mr Jagan Vohra, owner of Prospect House, said:
"Brent Council have provided endless help and advice and thanks to them the building is now providing 17 homes. I am determined to continue my positive work to support the local community."
Amelia Joan-Collins, a resident at Prospect House, said:
"We like living in our apartment, it's quiet, the standard is good and we have everything we need nearby like shops and local facilities."