London property: Empty shops being turned into ‘affordable homes’ with convenience store becoming 4 bed home

Vacant shops around the capital are being converted into homes for Londoners.

The Empty Spaces project will see unused commercial premises transformed into homes for different vulnerable groups.

The first project is taking place in East London and a shop that has been empty for two years will be converted into “four, generously sized bedsit rooms with ensuite bathrooms and a large, shared living, dining, and kitchen area”.

Although different sectors of society will benefit from the scheme, this location in Beacontree, Dagenham, will be for young adults who have spent time in the care system.

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Empty Spaces is the brainchild of charity Habitat for Humanity and they have partnered with Blackstone Real Estate who are providing funds as well as housing knowledge.

Blackstone Real Estate have partnered with Habitat for Humanity GB in turning empty properties into homes

The young adults will be able to live there due to the rents that have been set out by the Local Authority. It is equivalent to the amount that people would receive in housing benefits.

This means that they will be supported by their rents being covered if they receive housing benefits or universal credit.

Farhad Karim, Blackstone Europe COO told MyLondon: “The unit in Barking and Dagenham was a natural choice having been sitting empty for two years.

“We want to provide a safe home for young adults, allowing them to focus on finding training and jobs.”

The shop in Beacontree is in a prime location and the young people who eventually live there will have great transport links to and from work.

Mr Karim added: “We hope this project will be the first of many.

“There is an urgent need for affordable housing across London with the possibility to repurpose vacant units across all London boroughs.”

According to an Action on Empty Homes report, the number of people sleeping rough is on the rise. So are the number of empty properties.

The report states that a staggering 30,000 homes are considered “long-term empty”.

The first project will be developing an empty unit in Barking & Dagenham, next to the Becontree Shopping Centre, into homes for statutory care leavers.

The first project will be developing an empty unit in Barking & Dagenham, next to the Becontree Shopping Centre, into homes for statutory care leavers.

Projects like Empty Spaces will help put unused properties into the hands of the people that need them most.

“Habitat for Humanity GB has 25+ years of experience tackling housing issues and supporting vulnerable people,” Mr Karim said.

“By supporting organisations such as these, we can directly contribute to urban regeneration, which supports and strengthens the communities we live and work in”.

Tum Kazunga, CEO at Habitat for Humanity Great Britain added: “This exciting partnership between Habitat for Humanity GB and Blackstone Real Estate is a great step towards unlocking further social housing stock.

“By doing so, we can provide the stability those leaving care need to unlock their potential.”

We believe this is a key step in addressing homelessness and boosting the overall economy by reducing social exclusion.”

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