Hunslet Club brings empty property back to life

A house that has lain empty on Robb Street in Beeston for over twenty years is being brought back to life thanks to the Hunslet Club and their partners.

Robb Street 1
Danny Dickinson (Gipsil), Dennis Robbins (Hunslet Club) and Gill Coupland (Empty Homes Doctor)

The house belonged to an elderly woman and had been her parents house. Gill Coupland from the Empty Homes Doctor service helped her to find a buyer for the property, but she backed out of the sale, which had become emotionally too difficult for her.

After pressure from local councillors including Cllr Angela Gabriel, the Council stepped in and obtained a Compulsory Purchase Order. The house was then sold to the Hunslet Club rather than going into a public auction.

The Hunslet Club run vocational training for young people at risk of exclusion from school. These sessions include bricklaying, plumbing and plastering, but the young people struggle to get site experience to be able to develop their careers.

Dennis Robbins, the chief executive of The Hunslet Club explains:

“We decided to buy our own empty house for the young people to work on. We then looked to see how we could maximise the benefit to the club and our 2,300 members.”

Not all the work could be done by the trainees, so a specification was drawn up for elements such as re-roofing and new windows and this work was offered to club members first.

Robb Street 2“When the house is finished it will be a superb family home and we will let it, on a social rent, to a club member. We want to support our members and help them achieve their aspirations and this will make a secure platform for someone to bring up their family.”

Councillor Angela Gabriel said:

“We are delighted with this project, it benefits the community in so many ways: providing a training experience, work for local businesses, creating affordable rented housing and not least removing an eyesore and a focus for anti-social behaviour.”

Dennis Robbins acknowledged that this was a new activity for the club, funded from reserves. He praised the support of Gipsil, the social enterprise from Gipton who have brought their experience and are project managing the refurbishment.

“The only set back has been the length of time, but that was because of the compulsory purchase. We hope to take on three more houses next year.”