The final agenda for the Scottish Empty Homes Conference is now available!

The next annual Scottish Empty Homes Conference will take place on 27th November in Glasgow. The event looks at how Empty Homes Professionals can come together to share best practice and experiences of bringing private sector empty homes back into use. Our Empty Homes Coordinator Kristen Hubert tells us about the program.

I am particularly excited about our two keynote speakers – in our morning session Malcolm Fraser, Architect, who led the drafting of Scotland’s Town Centre Review, will be speaking about how empty homes work can impact on efforts to increase and improve town centre living in Scotland.  In the afternoon session, Ineke Hulsholf, also an Architect, from the Netherlands, will be inspiring us with her stories of bringing large scale derelict buildings (with a variety of previous uses) back into use for residential use.  Ineke spoke at the English Empty Homes Conference a number of years ago and had everyone thoroughly engaged so I’m looking forward to hearing about the new projects she’s been involved with since then.

We have two workshops in the programme focusing on particular projects – one from Colin and Kirsty at Angus Council about the Glengate Hall Project, which involved the use of Scottish Government Empty Homes Loan Fund money, Conservation Area Regeneration Funding and developer contributions to create 9 affordable units out of a long term empty building.  The other project focused workshop comes from Ronnie McRae from the Highland Small Communities Housing Trust who were the only organisation in Scotland successful in bidding to the Nationwide Empty Homes Fund.  Ronnie will tell us how his project is bringing two empty homes back into use for affordable housing as well as involving the community and providing training to young people.

For Empty Homes Officers looking to hone their specific skills in key areas we have Catriona Arbuckle from the Lanarkshires Empty Homes Project along with her colleague John Burns from North Lanarkshire Council to talk us through how and why they have used CIVICA to develop their empty homes database.  Sounds techy –  but this is about how to use a system practically, to save time and free officers up to engage with owners.  The other session that will likely be of most interest to Empty Homes Officers is Linda Fay from Life-Pod sharing her expertise on working with empty home owners who hoard – an issue that has come up in practice for a number of Empty Homes Officers over the last couple years.

We also have two additional workshops which we suspect will be popular.  The first is from Prof. David Adams of the Land Reform Review Group.  David will be outlining the group’s recommendation for the introduction of a new power for councils – a Compulsory Sale Order.  There are clear parallels between this power and the specific empty homes enforcement tool the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership has been calling for.  I am very interested to see what the audience thinks of these proposals and how they might apply in an empty homes context.  Gavin Leask from the Homes Again Project will then be attempting to categorise different types of empty home owners into groups and discuss the different way he approaches each.  This session will make a good introduction to empty homes work for anyone new to the field.

The morning will also include the presentation of the Scottish Empty Homes Champion of the Year Awards.  Nominations have flooded in this year so the results should be very interesting.

Hopefully that quick run through has whet your appetite and if you haven’t booked yet there is still time. See you there!