This was a new category in our Empty Homes Awards and it produced more entries than we have ever had, in any category.
Sponsorship from Cromwood Social
We also had a new sponsor, in the shape of London social housing provider Cromwood Social thanks in part to the advocacy of Abdus Saleh, their Head of Investment and Development, who has had a long-time involvement with empty homes issues as an enabler.
Contributing to the Conference Brochure, the organisation wrote:
We at Cromwood Group have a long history of managing social housing and working with local authorities in London and Manchester. We set up Cromwood Social, headed by Abdus Saleh, to bring empty properties back into use for the use of social housing. We have partnered with financial intermediaries and created funds that can be used to acquire and/or refurbish empty properties. Our one stop service in London to owners of empty properties includes resolving probate; financing refurbishment; project managing works and management of refurbished property. We expect to expand our operations outside of London
The award criteria
We were deliberately vague in setting out the criteria for this award: we wanted to see what sorts of entries would be submitted with a view to possibly providing more detailed guidance next year. I am not sure whether we will provide narrower criteria next year: in some ways it was good to get a range of submissions.
What we definitely can do is provide some insight into the more technical criteria that were applied once we had to judge the submissions. It is clear that taking good before-and-after photos is far from straightforward. Many of the submissions might have benefitted from some adjustments which would have made them stronger candidates, such as cropping or minor rotation.
So here is out list of technical tips for next year:
- The before-and-after photos should be of the same building (!) We want the photos to tell a story of what is and what was, not what is and what could be as shown by a similar building.
- Pictures should be taken from the same angle.
- Pictures should be taken from the same distance: if not, use simple graphics tools to crop/ resize / resample so they come out the same size.
- Try and get the verticals vertical. This is harder than it sounds as you do get parallax effects. But you can use the fine rotation tools in most available software to gently nudge things back into a more vertical shape (you then need to crop the picture back into a rectangle).
- With internal pictures try and give a good impression of the room as a whole rather than close in to certain fitments. There is more scope to show different angles with internals - some of the preceding points don't apply.
So, that said, here are the winners.
Joint Winners: Empty Homes Doctor, Leeds – Strong internal shots
Joint Winners: James Lafferty, Argyll and Bute Council – Campbeltown Project portfolio
Highly Commended: Francis Burton, Croydon Council - External shots
Empty Homes Doctor, Leeds
Abdus Saleh presenting the award certificate to Sue Carpenter, one of the Leeds Empty Homes Doctors. Below is a selection of the internal shots that helped win the award.
Argyll and Bute Council (James Lafferty)
Abdus Saleh presents the award to Shaheena Din of the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership: she accepted it on behalf of James Lafferty of Argyll and Bute Council.
Francis Burton - Croydon Council
Abdus presenting the certificate to Francis Burton (standing right in the picture).