Derelict homes and shops in Shropshire will be given a new lease of life with £625,000 of Government funding.
The cash will be spent in areas where vacant properties have given rise to squatting, rat infestation and collapsing house prices.
The Wrekin Housing Trust Limited is looking for 10 properties in Ludlow and South Shropshire to bring back into use with £400,000.
Meanwhile, Shropshire Housing Alliance plans to spend its £225,000 on refurbishing two empty shops in Oswestry.
Jane Green, for the Wrekin Housing Trust, said: “The properties have not been identified yet but we will be working with Shropshire Council to identify those which have been empty for at least six months and preferably for more than two years.
“Not only will the project reinvigorate the fabric of empty buildings which may otherwise fall into disrepair, but also make a significant difference for people struggling to find affordable, good rented accommodation in the rural market towns and villages they were brought up in, work in, or have a strong connection to.”
Julian Price, managing director of the Shropshire Housing Alliance, said: “We looked at Cross Street in Oswestry with Shropshire Council because they were concerned there were a lot of empty shops on that street.
“We are looking to purchase two buildings on that street and convert the upstairs into flats then perhaps find a use connected to us for the shop, possibly housing advice services.”
He added: “This is the second year we’ve had a successful bid. We are about to start work on a former bank in Market Drayton that became a nightclub and then I think it was empty for 10 years. We are converting that into flats and hope that will be finished in January 2014.
“We hope the shops in Oswestry will be finished in 2015. If we can get people living there they will spend money in the local shops and hopefully it will go a little way to generating economy on the high street.”
Communities Minister Don Foster said: “The government is doing everything possible to tackle the problem of empty homes and urban blight. Today I’m announcing we’re going to do even more, with towns across England benefiting from £91m to refurbish over 6,000 empty properties to get them back into use.
“This will bring people, shops and jobs back to once abandoned areas, and provide extra aff-ordable homes we so badly need. We’ve already made very good progress, cutting the number of long-term empty homes by 40,000 but with thousands of people in this country desperate to buy a home and areas still suffering problems of urban blight we must go further still.”
To suggest properties for refurbishment to Wrekin Housing Trust call Dave Garratt on (01584) 875476.