Empty shops will be converted to flats in Gillars Green

St Helens Star: The shops on Gillars Green that will be converted to flats The shops on Gillars Green that will be converted to flats

A ROW of empty shops will be converted into one-bedroom flats to help people who have been affected by changes to housing benefit.

Helena Partnerships has already started converting the disused stores on Gillars Green Drive in Eccleston into six new homes for rent.

Named by some as the ‘bedroom tax’, the welfare reforms see benefits cut for people if they are considered to have a spare bedroom.

One existing shop, Boston News and Booze, will remain.

Helena’s asset management director, Dan Bradley, said: “The shops suffered from many years of short-term lease periods and we struggled to let vacant units. The appearance of the parade was becoming a blight on the neighbourhood.

“At the same time there is a need for more good-quality one-bedroom accommodation and so we thought this would be a win-win solution.

“The new flats will offer a spacious open plan kitchen and living area, large double bedroom and secure walled rear yard area. Best of all they will offer someone starting out or looking for the chance to downsize to have a great new home.”

The Gillars Green conversion project received funding of £15,000 per home from the Housing and Communities Agency Empty Homes Scheme a government project to tackle the issue of empty buildings.

One existing shop - Boston News and Booze – is being retained to serve the local community.

Last year Helena, which also develops outside of the St Helens borough, built 1,221 homes and plan 1,300 more over the next five years.

Last month the team delivered five new two-bedroom bungalows in Chisnall Close, Eccleston, and work is ongoing on the creation of more than 100 new homes at Waterway Park in Warrington and family properties at Fairbrothers in Newton-le-Willows.

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