Calderdale scheme for empty buildings could be used in Kirklees

View of Northgate House, Halifax
View of Northgate House, Halifax

A scheme that helps empty properties stay in use that has been pioneered in Calderdale could be adopted by neighbouring Kirklees Council.

The concept of live-in guardianship - different to traditional renting - sees guardians given a license, not a lease, to occupy a property and are legally entitled to occupy the premises on a temporary basis as licensees, not tenants.

They must adhere to strict terms of occupation – no pets, no children and no smoking – to keep the building “suitably protected” until it is sold, redeveloped or demolished.

Properties are provided to working professionals for as little as £160 per calendar month. In exchange for affordable living, the guardians act as a deterrent to anti-social behaviour.

The project, which has been running for more than a decade, is being driven by London-based Ad Hoc Property Management. Working with commercial and residential properties, it already operates Laurel Bank, a privately-owned former nursing home and Northgate House, both in Halifax. The latter, a four-storey former office block, housed the town’s council offices between 1982 and 2017.

The scheme could focus on large sites in Kirklees such as the former Oakes School in Lindley, latterly a nursing home, which has stood empty for several years.

“Buildings like the former Oakes School with over 100 years of history need to be taken care of and protected in order to preserve the town’s rich history,” said Ad Hoc’s Yorkshire Area Manager Craig Mitchell.

The benefits are three-fold: improving security around vacant buildings and deterring vandalism, regenerating a disused property and providing people with affordable living.

Mr Mitchell added that Laurel Bank with its many private bedrooms lends itself easily to the guardianship scheme. Northgate House in central Halifax, owned by Calderdale Council, was “another great example” of the benefits of vacant property protection.

“One particular benefit at Northgate House is that the business rates can be converted to council tax while guardians are in situ, saving the council a huge sum of money. It’s a win-win situation.

“The buildings we manage range in size from small flats and pubs to medium sized care homes and, like Northgate House, large office blocks. The options are endless.”