700k abandoned properties to be repurposed across the UK

700k abandoned properties to be repurposed across the UK

A Scottish startup is set to reduce homelessness, overcrowding and gentrification through community-led restoration projects — relieving pressure on the housing system and UK councils.

There are currently an estimated 700,000 unoccupied properties across Great Britain — and Dr. Katherine Gunderson, Founder of Grand Bequest, believes that they could serve much more of a purpose in the hands of their local communities.

Katherine commented: “Right now the thing that tends to happen is that either these buildings are vandalised and then get demolished, or sit vacant for decades until it’s no longer financially viable to save them. It doesn’t make sense logically or environmentally.”

The problem is that over 40% of vacant buildings are public-owned, and having them put back into the hands of their local communities to be restored involves a lot of red tape and following convoluted procedures and processes.

Katherine continued: “Protected buildings take on average 10 years to get back into use. Our work in councils across Scotland highlighted just how broken the current system is when it comes to getting empty buildings back into use, especially if they are listed or protected buildings. There’s been a severe drop in the conservation support for protecting our buildings in recent years as cost-cutting has made short-sighted decisions around representatives for cherished buildings.”

In an effort to combat this problem, Katherine founded proptech company Grand Bequest to help communities cut through all the ‘academic speak’, provide them with the right connections, and help them come up with plans for how their buildings can be used through the use of what Katherine calls ‘Grand Grades proprietary calculations’.

“Communities tend to not have the skills or the finance or the support that they need in these undertakings. We connect them with architects, consultants and surveyors and provide the resourcing and engineering that they need to make a project come together,” said Katherine.

Katherine believes that Grand Bequest’s work can also go a long way in easing pressure on the UK housing system: “There are over 700,000 empty buildings in the UK and over 11 million empty buildings in the EU. If we got these buildings back into use, there would be millions more homes available and could house the entire homeless population more than twice over.”

Grand Bequest have already gotten to work saving vacant buildings in their local community, and Katherine aims to expand these efforts with the launch of new tech Grand Bequest Marketplace, a central hub for local communities across the world to add their buildings and garner support and resources for their restoration.

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