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Historic house undergoes £600,000 redevelopment to help people affected by the ‘bedroom tax’

A landmark property in a Staffordshire village which stood empty for many years has undergone a makeover and is now providing homes for people affected by the ‘bedroom tax’.

Glenthorne House in Cheslyn Hay has been converted into 11 one-bedroom apartments as part of a £600,000 project by South Staffordshire Housing Association (SSHA) aimed at breathing new life into the historic house.

The apartments are particularly aimed at local people who have been affected by the introduction of the Government’s under-occupancy charge or ‘bedroom tax’.

Lorraine Williams moved to Glenthorne House after falling into rent debt at her previous home. She had moved to nearby Great Wyrley to be nearer her daughter but had suffered a heart attack and other health conditions that prevented her from working.

She said: “I was renting a two-bedroom flat and, when the new charge came in, I had to find an extra £15 each week and pay council tax too. It was money I didn’t have.

“Then I got a call asking if I would be interested in moving to Glenthorne House. It is such a beautiful building and I knew that the Association had just finished converting it to create homes for people like me, who live on our own and had been hit by the bedroom tax.

“I took a look around and knew I wanted to be here. I was desperate to move in. I’m in a lovely flat, right at the top of the building. I can afford the rent and I get on well with the other tenants. We were all in the same boat, living on our own and falling into arrears because of the bedroom tax. This has been a fresh start.”

Glenthorne House, in High Street, was built in the late 19th century by the Hawkins family, who were a prominent family in the area at the time. Its builder, Thomas Albert Hawkins, was owner of the Coppice Colliery.

The house was first converted into flats just prior to World War II, and later redeveloped further by South Staffordshire Council.

Charlie Riley, head of development at SSHA, said: “Glenthorne House is a historic building that is well known by the local community in Cheslyn Hay and we are delighted to have been able to bring it back into use after it was empty for so many years.

“It is a beautiful building which is now serving a fantastic purpose in providing affordable homes for those affected by welfare reform. We hope our tenants will be very happy in their new homes.”