Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Class Home for Tenants; New Scheme to Safeguard Empty School

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Class Home for Tenants; New Scheme to Safeguard Empty School

Article excerpt

Byline: Dave Black

DESIGN engineer Adam Burbidge is enjoying life back at school at the age of 27 - but these days it is where he calls home rather than a place of learning.

Adam is living in a spacious classroom in the former school in Blyth, Northumberland, as part of a national scheme which provides so-called "guardian angels" for empty buildings.

He is one of three tenants who have moved into the disused St Andrew's RC First School, and are acting as guardians of the building against potential intruders and vandals.

Several more tenants are being sought by property management company Ad Hoc to live in the school under the Guardians scheme, an idea pioneered in Holland before being imported to the UK.

It involves people paying rent to live in buildings such as schools, nursing homes, blocks of flats, churches, vicarages, pubs and hospitals, temporarily empty or waiting to be sold or redeveloped. The guardians are brought in to help protect them against vandals, arsonists, squatters and burglars, at a much smaller cost to the owners than hiring security guards.

Adam and his fellow tenants are paying pounds 180 a month rent for their new accommodation, which closed as part of a reorganisation of Roman Catholic schools.

He has sub-divided his classroom into a living area, bedroom, study and laundry space, and has brought in furniture and personal items such as a TV and laptop.

Adam, who comes from the Cramlington area and works in North Tyneside, has previous experience as a property guardian with Ad Hoc when he was one of a number of tenants who lived temporarily in an empty vicarage in North Shields.

He said: "When we moved out of there and went our separate ways I was looking for somewhere else so I contacted Ad Hoc. They said they had just been given this empty school in Blyth to look after, which appealed to me. …

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