Find more posts

EHN Awards 2024: Winners announced at EHN Conference 2024!

June 2, 2024

Presented at our annual Conference on the 22nd May, the EHN Awards recognise and celebrate the work that empty homes officers, teams and practitioners do on a daily basis, and enable them to promote their successes and achievements through national recognition. This year was no different, with some incredible examples of projects, case studies and people, who have displayed fantastic attributes to bring empty homes back into use in their areas.

The Best Partnership Award, sponsored by Estate Research Ltd

The Best Partnership Award is intended to highlight particularly difficult cases that have been successfully dealt with and in judging the submissions for this award, we look to reward those that have shown the drive and determination to see a case through to a successful conclusion.

Whilst excelling at providing a range of solutions to the problem of wasted homes, undoubtedly some cases are more challenging than others and require the right combination of perseverance, imagination and appropriate tools to be brought into play.

Highly commended in this year’s category are Ad Hoc Property Management for their partnership with Gentoo Group, and Lendology CiC, for their partnership with Somerset Council. All are congratulated for their work and are deserving of recognition.

On awarding our first of two joint winners in this category to Gedling Borough Council, in partnership with Lester & Bingley Estate Agents  , the panel said…

“By enlisting the support of an external organisation, Gedling Borough Council have been able to overcome an extremely challenging case that have otherwise remained empty indefinitely. Though the owner’s circumstances proved difficult, the partnership between the council and a local estate agent were able to work sympathetically and methodically to find a resolution. This is a perfect example of using the resources available, whilst other routes and methods may not be suitable or accessible for either the authority or owner. Congratulations to the authority and their partner for a successful intervention”.

On our second joint winner of this award, Arun District Council, in partnership with their Revenue and Benefits Team, and Fraser & Fraser, the panel said…

“This nomination is a perfect example of how sharing ideas, processes and procedures can lead to lasting and sustainable change, with high impact results. The partnership between the Empty Homes Team at Arun District Council, the Revenue and Benefits team and Fraser & Fraser has achieved outstanding results over the past 12 months. Not only have significant numbers of properties been brought back into use, and are in the process of doing so, but the subsequent revenue generated from properties previously indefinitely exempt, shows that empty homes work can pay, with the foresight of small changes and additional processes being put in place. The joint efforts of the three teams should be championed, recognised and replicated where possible, and are deserving winners of this award.”

A huge congratulations to Gedling Borough Council, Arun District Council, and those highly commended for this year’s Best Partnership award. All are deserving of their recognition for their efforts, success and hard work.

The Innovation Award, sponsored by NPLaw

The Innovation Award looks to recognise how creative and progressive methods are used to tackle challenging cases, or bring wider attention to the issue. This award aims to highlight the innovative thinking required to deal with the difficult long-term empties in a way that provides new solutions to old problems. 

On selecting Land Hero as this year’s winners of the Innovation Award, the panel said…

”Since launching in November of 2022, the Land Hero app has gone from strength to strength in enabling the public to submit reports of empty buildings in their area. With this information being fed onto other organisations such as local authorities, guardianship companies, developers and emergency services, Land Hero have not only developed a tool in which the public can easily access but has importantly brought a level of exposure and attention to the issue of empty homes and disused buildings to a wider audience. As this attention grows over the coming years, so will the ability of Land Hero and others to make a significant difference through their innovation and foresight”.

Meeting the Challenge Award, sponsored by Grafton Empty Homes

Our Meeting the Challenge Award is intended to highlight particularly difficult cases that have been successfully dealt with and in judging the submissions for this award, we look to reward those that have shown the drive and determination to see a case through to a successful conclusion.

Highly commended in this year’s category are Durham County Council, and Birmingham City Council. Both are congratulated for their work and are deserving of recognition.

Unable to split two outstanding examples, out first Joint Winners of this year’s award, Plymouth City Council, our panel said…

”The case highlighted in this nomination explores some of the most challenging aspects of empty homes work, and that whilst the solution to some may be straight forward, the route to getting there requires a level of tenacity and understanding of an owner’s personal circumstances. Using simple negotiation methods, an established investors list supportive language and the threat of enforcement action at the right time, Plymouth have demonstrated that empty homes work is often a case of simply persisting, rather than a requirement of having offers of financial incentives on the table. The authority should be congratulated for their efforts, and are highly deserving joint winners of this award.”

And of our second Joint Winner of this award, Stroud District Council, the judges commented…

”Having successfully used the authority’s powers to enforce the sale for the nominated case, the local authority have achieved significant success both with this property, and with national coverage in highlighting the issue of empty homes. An evidently challenging case, with the outside elements having overtaken the inside of the property, this case, with the accompanying press release demonstrating the council’s intention to work with owners by offering support, loans and a route to occupation, Stroud District Council should be proud of their team’s efforts and are highly deserving joint winners of this award.”

A huge congratulations to Plymouth City Council, Stroud District Council and those highly commended for this year’s award. All are deserving of their recognition, for their success and hard work on these cases.

The Best Before and After Photograph Award, sponsored by Finders International

The Best Before and After Photograph award, perfectly represents how a photo can tell a thousand words. It also displays the differences that returning empty homes back into use can have on their neighbours and communities.

Highly commended within this category were Birmingham City Council, Cumberland Council and Plymouth City Council for their excellent submissions.

On selecting this year’s winner of the award, the panel said…

”A first-class example of the difference an empty home bring brought back into use can make to its neighbours and the wider community. Having been empty since 1998, this significantly deteriorated property blighted a neighbourhood and caused problems for both direct neighbours. Requiring a full back-to-brick refurbishment, this property was the subject of an enforced sale, and is now occupied having been empty for 299 months. A huge difference, both in terms of the photographs, but also to the neighbours and wider community. Durham should be both congratulated and proud of their achievements and fully deserve their success in this award.”

Congratulations to Durham County Council and those highly commended for this year’s award!

The Rising Star Award, sponsored by Fraser & Fraser

In this award, we look to recognise newcomers who display the same qualities that we seek when giving the 'Empty Homes Practitioner of the Year' Award’, but are considered to be at the earlier stages of their local authority or empty homes careers. We recognise that Empty Homes Practitioners often work alone or within teams of wider specialisms, so feel their achievements over the past 12 months are equally worthy of national recognition.

Highly commended in this category are Hayley Rourke of Durham County Council, and Laura Carney, also of Durham County Council. Congratulations on your nominations for the award for this year.

On selecting this year’s award winner, Anna Nightingale of South Cambridgeshire District Council, the panel said…

”Making a newly created role her own, Anna has demonstrated that having the fundamental aspects of an empty homes service in place will bring sustainable success. Taking the council from a standing start, Anna has built a service on developing key partnerships, thorough procedures and processes, and a dedication to see a resolution brought to problematic and troublesome properties. Whilst widely promoting her work and success, it is clear that this nomination deserves national recognition, and is therefore Anna is a worthy winner of this year’s Rising Star Award”.

Congratulations to Anna, Hayley and Laura, for your hard work and efforts over the past twelve months. Your national recognition is fully deserved!

Empty Homes Practitioner of the Year, sponsored by No Use Empty: Kent

The Empty Property Practitioner of the Year award celebrates an individual’s personal achievements, successes and determination to make their service the best it can be, and in themselves and their service in order to make huge differences in their local areas.

On being highly commended in this award category, Louise Cowings of Durham County Council was described as…

”Having only been in post since 2023, the way at which Louise has taken to the role, coupled with her development of the service and options available to owners across the authority’s jurisdiction, Louise should be recognised and highly commended. Clearly showing a comprehensive understanding of the complexities of empty homes work and a willingness to explore options based on an owner’s circumstances, Louise’s approach to considering all opportunities the council may explore to bring empty homes back into use, is an example for all practitioners to follow.”

On winning this year’s Empty Homes Practitioner of the Year Award, the panel said of Rosie Gage, from Plymouth City Council…..

”Through her perseverance and dedication to finding a solution to a problem property, Rosie clearly demonstrates the adaptability to go that extra mile, in trying methods and routes that have previously failed in other cases. Rosie’s attention to detail and approach to following what would be considered as best practice, makes her a worthy winner of this award, and should be congratulated on her ongoing achievements.

A deserving winner of this Empty Homes Practitioner of The Year award.”

Congratulations to Rosie and Louise on their achievements and awards this year, which, following their efforts, hard work and passion to improve their service areas, is thoroughly deserved.