A government scheme to give redundant buildings a new lease of life is seeing a surge in interest, according to a property expert.
Ben Truslove, a director of Redditch-based agency John Truslove, said the economic revival had sparked inquiries into how to take advantage of the long-standing grant fund.
He said: “We have discussed this with North Worcestershire Economic Development and Regeneration.
“We have really seen an increase in the number of tenants and purchasers picking up on it in the last 3-4 months.”
To be eligible for a grant, buildings must either be unused or unusable in their current state for the required purpose which must be business use of some kind. Job creation is also a key criteria and any application is expected to result in a minimum of two new or safeguarded jobs within two years of completion.
Grants are limited to a maximum of 30 per cent of the total eligible costs of the project. The minimum grant is £3,000 and the ‘maximum’ is £50,000, although that can be increased if a significant number of jobs would be created.
While the Redundant Building Grant scheme is available across the country, the Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Worcestershire version has proved particularly promising, with a total of £1.5 million allocated – expected to help create around 300 jobs in the period to March 2017.
Mr Truslove noted: “Grant awards are discretionary.
“The aim is to support existing and start-up businesses to enable the conversion or refurbishment of redundant buildings to bring them back into productive business use, or to enhance their current business use.
“Provided that it doesn’t involve residential, agricultural or horticultural uses, virtually any existing building could be eligible.
“More or less anyone can apply – individuals, partnerships, limited companies or co-operatives. Applicants can be owner-occupiers or tenants.”
Eligible costs, for which a grant would be awarded, include building works, installation of services, including improvements to information and communications technology infrastructure and energy efficiency, and access, car parking and landscaping required as part of the planning permission.
Mr Truslove said: “There are many redundant buildings across both rural and urban areas.
“These grants are not massive but sometimes they can be the difference between a refurbishment project going ahead and one failing to proceed.
“I would urge property owners and tenants to check out the scheme – it has considerable attractions.”