Kier begins work on £1 homes

Kier Stoke is backing a new scheme to help people buy homes for just £1 and contributing to a £3m regeneration plan of the local area.

Kier, which provides repairs and maintenance to more than 19,000 properties in Stoke-on-Trent, is carrying out £1m of internal and external renovations, including chimney works, roof repairs, replacement doors and windows and floor and stair repairs on 33 empty properties, which are on the market for just £1. The company, which has employed 20 local subcontractors to carry out the work, will also replace heating systems, wiring, kitchens and bathrooms in the properties.

The regeneration project was pioneered by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, offering people the opportunity to purchase one of the currently derelict homes for just £1. Successful applicants must take out a £30,000 loan to improve the property, which is then paid back over ten years, with significantly lower monthly payments than renting a property in the same area.

Stoke residents Lawrence and Teresa Poxon have been provisionally approved to purchase a £1 house in Denbigh Street, which forms part of the regeneration scheme. Mrs Poxon, aged 46, said:

“For us, buying one of the £1 houses is about security, as there’s no way we would have been able to take out a mortgage. Knowing that we will own our own home in 10 years’ time is an amazing feeling.”

More than 600 people applied for homes during the first two rounds, with 24 applicants successfully approved. The council is accepting applications for the other nine homes until May. Prospective owners need to be living or working in Stoke to be eligible, with the council extending the criteria to also include forces personnel who formerly lived in the area and those with a regular income but who no longer work.

The first home is scheduled to be handed over in March, and Kier hopes to complete all the improvements by early June. Kier Stoke service manager, Robert Burt, said:

“Kier is dedicated to working hard for the communities it serves and we are proud to be involved in this pioneering scheme, which promises to create new neighbourhoods and bring an abandoned community to life.

“Our years of local knowledge and expertise make us perfect for this role and we have employed 20 local subcontractors to carry out all kinds of work, from damp-proofing to wall tiling.”

The redevelopment scheme is part of a £3m plan to regenerate the Cobridge neighbourhood, which has previously been blighted by metal thieves and squatters. Homeowners must stay in the properties for at least five years to support the community regeneration project, which incorporates currently empty and boarded up properties in Portland Street, Lowther Street, Denbigh Street and Century Street.

Cllr Janine Bridges, the city council’s cabinet member for housing, neighbourhoods and community safety, said:

“The programme is really gaining momentum now and it’s great to see the work being done by the city council, in partnership with Kier Stoke, to bring these derelict properties back into use and transforming them into homes once again. It’s fantastic to see the renovation of these homes leading to the creation of a brand new community in our city.”

For more information about Kier, visit www.kier.co.uk