AEOB secures finance for first building conversion
Social investment turns empty commercial premises into affordable housing in Bristol
Abolish Empty Office Buildings (AEOB) will start to convert its first property to affordable housing in Bristol next month (September). The Community Benefit Society has now secured finance to commence the build.
Our pioneering scheme will see the first tenants move in to secure rented accommodation before the end of 2016, with works expected to take 12-15 months.
AEOB has raised nearly £300,000 from a Community Share Offer, which allowed acquisition of our first property in St George in East Bristol. Triodos Bank have now granted a £425,000 mortgage, giving the green light for full building work to begin. The redundant workspace will be completely refitted and extended, creating six flats which will house up to 10 people.
The share offer remains open, to fund the balance of the work, and to expedite repayment of the loan. Triodos’ finance ensures completion of this project, which is intended as a demonstration of what can be achieved with empty properties. We hope it will be the first of many.
AEOB is addressing the UK’s housing crisis by buying unused commercial premises and converting them into affordable rental units with secure tenancies. Each development will be owned by AEOB but managed by a tenants’ co-operative.
We are now gathering a group of prospective tenants in Bristol who will:
- be diverse but share a commitment to living co-operatively
- be involved in shaping the project
- contribute to further AEOB housing projects by sharing experiences and skills
Much of the money raised to date from our Community Share Offer came from investors in Bristol, but there have also been contributions from as far away as Scotland. AEOB founder Tony Crofts said: “We have clearly struck a chord with those who “have” and want to make an ethical investment to support those who “have not”. We are delighted to be working with Triodos UK to move this first project onward to completion”. John Cook, one of the first prospective tenants, said: “It’s nice someone’s not in it for the money”.
AEOB hope to inspire others to create similar projects, and will franchise their model to other groups and other cities, who are encouraged to get in touch.