Town tenement restoration scoops national award

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart, Kelly Ferns of Argyll and Bute Council, Phil Hanson of sponsors Howdens, and TV presenter Matt Allwright.
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart, Kelly Ferns of Argyll and Bute Council, Phil Hanson of sponsors Howdens, and TV presenter Matt Allwright.

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A project led by Argyll and Bute Council to renovate a historic tenement in the heart of Campbeltown has scooped a national award.

Staff in the council’s economic development and housing teams worked together to save the building with a vital contribution coming from the Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS).

Now the project has won Best Collaboration at the Howdens Scottish Empty Homes Champions of the Year Awards 2019.

The council’s entry to the competition shows that the building was in poor condition but complexities due to it being owned by 21 different people meant little progress was being made before the council intervened.

The scale of the works needed included complete replacement of the main roof, stonework repairs, rot works, lead-work, chimney repairs and rainwater goods.

The external walkways to the south side were in a dangerous condition with a dangerous building notice in force preventing access to three flats. This meant that until common works were undertaken these flats could not legally be occupied.

The work led by the council has meant eight homes are now back in use. In addition, the project has safeguarded the future of four businesses, supporting eight full-time and eight part-time jobs.

The project cost more than £660,000 to complete. This would not have been achievable without a combination of funding sources which included funding from the private owners; CARS and housing grants; and VAT discounts all of which helped to secure one of Campbeltown’s most important town centre tenements.

Now retired, it was newsagent George McMillan who joined forces with other tenants and owners to form the Main and Longrow South Property Owners Association.

Speaking this week, he said: ‘The refurbishment has secured this part of Main Street for another 100 years, saving the existing homes and shops and a number of jobs, and also led to the opening of the new Fresh Connection. All of this is encouraging more people to visit the town centre.

‘Thanks to everyone who made the project possible including: James Lafferty, Moyra Paterson and Bill Halliday from Argyll and Bute Council.’

The association’s treasurer, George Graham, represented the Courier’s owner, Wyvex Media Ltd, which has three units within the tenement.

Mr Graham said: ‘I am delighted that the project to renovate the tenement block has won this award. It is very well deserved for all the hard work that has gone in to the project.

It was a long, long road to completion with a lot of obstacles and problems to overcome along the way. Four years ago the block was so run down the pigeons were thinking of moving out, the transformation in the block has been quite remarkable.

‘I really don’t think this project could have got off the ground, never mind completed, without the dedication and hard work put in by Moyra Paterson and, especially, James Lafferty.

‘James has been a driving force it seeing the project through and he can take pride in what he has achieved.’

The awards are held alongside the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership (SEHP) annual conference.

The SEHP is funded by the Scottish Government and run by housing charity Shelter Scotland. It provides guidance and support to councils on the issue of empty homes.

The transformed Main Street tenement.
The transformed Main Street tenement.