Fire Station Conversion Is A Blazing Success

New buyer Kerry Parkinson and Riverside's Ian Gregg
A VINTAGE fire engine and, dare we say, equally vintage firemen were on hand to welcome buyers into their new homes as a derelict Grade II listed fire station and a Victorian pub in Kensington are converted into homes to help struggling first-time buyers get on the property ladder. After many failed attempts to rescue the old fire station on Durning Road and adjacent Shipperies pub, Liverpool City Council gifted the site to housing association Riverside as part of its Mayoral pledge to deliver more than 5,000 new homes. With the help of £250,000 funding from the Homes and Communities Agency, Riverside renovated the buildings under its innovative Own Place scheme, converting them into five homes. Own Place allows people, who couldn’t otherwise afford to buy their own home, to become owner occupiers by bringing back into use long-term empty properties that require significant investment. The properties are improved to a mortgageable standard before being sold at a 25% discount to incentivise buyers to remain as owner occupiers for a minimum of five years. House prices in Merseyside are over six times the average income. The average salary of £24,014 falls short of the £34,040 required for an 80% mortgage in the county.* Ian Gregg, Riverside’s Director of Asset Management, said: “A shortage of affordable homes is pushing house prices and private rents out of reach for the average person in Merseyside. This combined with low wage growth makes it ever more difficult to save for a deposit. “The beauty of Own Place is that because the properties are sold at a 25% discounted rate of market value, buyers only need to secure a 75% loan to value mortgage so no deposit is required.” Rachel currently lives in private rented accommodation in Belle Vale with her husband and two children but is looking forward to moving into The Shipperies before the New Year. She said: “I’ve rented from a private landlord since I was a student but I don’t like the uncertainty – we had to leave the last house because the landlord was selling it and we couldn’t afford to buy it. Over the last 12 years, I’ve moved five times and each time I move I have to fork out on fees and a deposit. “I’m looking forward to being able to settle somewhere more permanent. I’ll also be getting a lot more house for my money. I currently pay £600 rent for a three-bedroom, two-storey house but my mortgage will be £560 for a four-bedroom, three-storey house. “Own Place is brilliant, we wouldn’t have got on the property ladder without it.” The North West has the highest number of long-term empty homes in the country. Merseyside alone has 8,528 homes lying empty.
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Deputy Mayor Ann O’Byrne and Kerry Parkinson
Deputy Mayor of Liverpool Ann O’Byrne said: “Not only does Own Place bring empty homes back into use but by selling properties to people willing to stay in an area and invest in the homes, it’s helping shift the balance from private renters to owner-occupier, resulting in more sustainable communities. “In addition, Own Place properties are grouped together so the improvements made to a number of homes will have a positive impact on the wider area.” The homes at The Shipperies start from just £120,000 for a three-storey, four-bedroom house – significantly less than the average house price in Merseyside (£148,924). For more information call 0151 343 1170, email enquiries@ownplace.co.uk or visit www.wnplace.org