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Ex-school could house low-cost living scheme

The former Seahouses First School building. Picture by Jane Coltman
The former Seahouses First School building. Picture by Jane Coltman

An appeal has been made for people to register their interest in a low-cost living scheme, which could be potentially launched at a former village school.

The Gazette has been told that Northumberland County Council is currently in talks with Ad Hoc Property Management about implementing the property-guardians initiative at the ex-Seahouses First School, which was a victim of the two-tier education switch.

Under the scheme, tenants pay a minimal monthly fee to live at the site. Ad Hoc says the initiative helps to protect empty buildings by bringing them back into use and tackles the problem of housing shortages and high rents.

Now, county councillor for Bamburgh, Coun Guy Renner-Thompson, is urging people to register an interest in the scheme, to help get it off the ground in Seahouses.

He said: “The county council is reviewing plans for the school site which has been empty since the Busy Bees playgroup moved out in December, but a conclusion to that review is a long way off. Until that review has happened, the council is left with an empty building which needs secured and looked after.

“I am keen that we don’t have to resort to hard measures, such has fencing and CCTV, which would be an eyesore in a picturesque village dependent on tourism.

“I have already ensured the playing field continues to be maintained and open to the public at cost to the county council, which is not normal practice when a school closes.

“The council is currently in talks with Ad Hoc. While Ad Hoc has said that the building is suitable, they don’t have a huge waiting list of potential Guardians wanting to live in north Northumberland, which is where my appeal comes in.

“This is a great opportunity for people to live on the beautiful Northumbrian coast in a grand old building for potentially less than the cost of renting a one-bedroom flat. All you have to do is register as a potential Guardian at www.adhocproperty.co.uk

“This is an innovative solution to the problem of empty buildings, which keeps costs down for the council-tax payer and means a much-loved building continues to provide something to the community.”