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Preston Road Voids - First House Welcomes Occupants


The first occupant of a home which has been revitalised by construction students on Hull's Preston Road Estate says it is a dream come true.

Emma Kinteh has moved into the three-bedroom semi-detached home on Ellerby Grove with her husband Al after some 120 students from Hull College spent months refurbishing it as part of a hands-on training scheme.

The Preston Road Voids Project will see four properties, which have been empty and neglected for at least five years, transformed into decent homes, with the ultimate goal of selling them on the open market as affordable properties. It is a joint venture by Probe (Hull) Ltd, Hull College, the Preston Road Development Trust and Hull City Council. More houses are to undergo their same refurbishment from this month.

Emma, 25, an office manager, and Al (34) had known about the house since her employer was sub-contracted to work on it, and she had set her heart on living there.

"We'd rented in different parts of Hull but I really wanted to return to East Hull as I work in this area and have family close by. I'd waited a year for this house and was even given the chance to choose the front door. I love the openness, the big space. I saw the house last September and discovered that Probe was looking to find someone to move in. I was still keen so we decided to wait for the go-ahead."

"The house was in a terrible state when we arrived", says joinery tutor John Farnill, "with much internal structural work to do first. The students loved working on it, though, and often came back when they were on their college holidays to do more work."

The training is provided for 16-25 year olds and students working on their NVQ Level 2 course at Hull College have relished the chance to work on a construction site rather than practise in the workshops. The challenge involves all aspects of property refurbishment, from 'stripping out' to joinery, plastering, bricklaying, fitting out and decorating.

Students will now switch their attention to three more boarded-up houses in nearby Ryehill Grove from the Autumn.

Twins Joe and Lewis Hill (19) from the Ings Road area worked on the scheme. The pair have completed Level 2 of their NVQ and are preparing to return to Hull College for the next stage in September.

Joe, who is currently with City Works, says:

"It's real pressure on site. If you make a mistake in the workshop, you just start again, but here the plasterer could be waiting to get on with his work."

Lewis, who is currently working for Victory Leisure Homes in West Hull, says: "We enjoyed it at Ellerby Grove and learnt a lot. We were all allocated rooms to do but we ended up doing much of the work upstairs. We both liked making things at school and were happy to train as joiners. Our dream is to go into property development.