Empty site in Banbury now called home by residents

St Leonard's House in Grimsbury. NNL-150707-091031001
St Leonard's House in Grimsbury. NNL-150707-091031001

A redundant eyesore which has now been transformed into affordable apartments and a source of community pride has welcomed its first residents.

St Leonard’s House in Grimsbury had previously been stood empty for about six years prior to Cherwell District Council purchasing the site as part of its award- winning Build! project.

Since then the building has undergone major renovation, extension and cladding work to the exterior of the building while the internal layout of the property has been redesigned to include five shared ownership apartments.

Councillor John Donaldson, Cherwell’s lead member for housing, said: “St Leonard’s House is a prominent site in the heart of the community but over the years this beautiful building had become ugly and forgotten. It was blighting the street scene for neighbours and an optimum location was going to waste.

“However, by working to restore the site we have brought this historic building back to life and given it a modern day purpose. By offering these properties on a shared ownership basis we have not only helped people to get a foot on the property ladder but helped to improve the appearance of the area on behalf of the entire community.”

The building, located on the corner of West Street and Middleton Road, was purchased by Cherwell District Council in 2013 and subsequently underwent a major renovation by Banbury-based firm Art Contracts Limited.

Outside there is a lawned front garden while to the rear there is allocated parking, bike and bin storage and a raised flower bed.

Inside, a communal hallway leads to the two one-bedroom and one two-bedroom apartments on the ground floor and one one-bedroom and one two-bedroom apartments on the first floor.

Each of the apartments offers open plan kitchen/ living/ dining space, a bathroom, bedrooms and storage space plus a newly fitted kitchen and bathroom.

Each of the properties was available to purchase on a shared ownership basis, where residents take out a mortgage on a percentage of the property and pay rent on the remaining share.

The Build! project is currently renovating several brownfield sites across the district to create affordable housing for residents.