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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Plan for public toilets to be turned into Cumbrian homes

A disused block of public toilets is to be converted into four flats in a new move to help combat a homes shortage.

The innovative scheme for the derelict property at Bank Court off Station Street in Keswick town centre is the second to be put forward by Keswick Community Housing Group, which built 11 three-bedroom houses next to St John’s churchyard last year.

The two-tier toilet block was owned by Allerdale Council but it has agreed to hand over the building to the volunteer-run group “at a very favourable rate,” said trust chairman Bill Bewley.

“We have total ownership of it and total responsibility for it,” he added.

The plan is to create four one-bedroom self-contained flats in the building that fronts the private car park behind the George Hotel after grants and planning permission have been applied for. The building has become something of an eyesore in recent years since it was closed.

The trust has two further housing projects for new homes in Keswick. One is for four two-bedroom properties at the Methodist Church in Southey Street as part of its major revamp.

The other is for around 25 two or three-bedroom houses at a site yet to be revealed. This is in addition to its first development called The Hopes, which cost £1.1m and consists of five rented, five shared-ownership and one property bought outright.

Mr Bewley said: “Our mission statement is to provide affordable housing. The 11 houses is significant. It is a good achievement but it is not going to solve the issue that we came together to try to solve.

“We must build more. If we build another 25, that is beginning to make a fairly big difference.”

The trust was formed in 2009 after the Churches Together in Keswick group decided something needed to be done to tackle the lack of affordable housing in Keswick which was forcing people to leave the town.

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