Trials and tribulations of conversion

Minister for the cabinet office Francis Maude MP with Tom Johnston, Glendale Gateway Trust director, in Wooler.
Minister for the cabinet office Francis Maude MP with Tom Johnston, Glendale Gateway Trust director, in Wooler.

A report published by a north Northumberland development trust has revealed the trials and tribulations involved in a project to convert empty properties into affordable homes.

Early this year, Glendale Gateway Trust had let all nine of its affordable homes at the Wheatsheaf building on High Street and Roddam Dene House (formerly West Mansfield House) developed with Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) empty properties funding.

It followed the successful delivery of the four new housing units (library housing and 16 & 17 Butler Court) with HCA funding.

But this new project certainly had its issues and problems, as detailed in a new report by Trust chairman Tom Johnston.

He wrote: ‘While we have ultimately succeeded in our goal to provide quality accommodation close to shops and services for older people via this programme, the story of delivery is one of ups and downs and a clear demonstration that things don’t always go according to plan.’

Issues included everything from the terms of the HCA grant, obtaining the accommodation, providing utilities to the homes and funding the project.

In conclusion, Mr Johnston said: “This was one of the most difficult capital projects the Trust has delivered.

“The overall budget was approximately £800,000 and the funding package was very complex.

“The timescale not only to complete the project, but to raise the finances, was very challenging.”

Read the report at

l Meanwhile, the first of the Trust’s digital screens linked to a scheme aimed at youngsters in Glendale have gone up – in Cornhill, Etal, Milfield and Wooler.

It’s part of the Engaging Glendale project, which is being rolled out across the area this year and which aims to inform young people of social and physical activities available to them in the area.

The project will help to remove the barriers young people of Glendale face when trying to access relevant information and communicate with others in their locality.

If you have a club, activity or event in which young people can take part, and you would like to promote it, send an email to Gemma via cheviot