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Get on the property ladder for a pound

In the recession, Poundland has been one of the UK’s few retail success stories. Now the discount store may be able to move into the property market as Liverpool council announced plans to sell some its housing stock for just £1 a house.

The houses, in the Granby Triangle estate in Liverpool, are located in an area called Kensington but they are at the very bottom of the UK’s property ladder. They were originally scheduled for demolition under former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott’s regeneration plans, but with a chronic shortage of affordable housing, Liverpool city council has agreed to offer them to buyers who are willing to invest time and money in refurbishing them.

It seems an astute and cost-effective way of providing housing and incentives for the local community. Liverpool’s deputy mayor Paul Brant said: "This allows people who may be excluded from mortgages but have construction skills to play a part in the regeneration of their communities." With many people priced out of the property market, one pound houses offer an escape route. "We’ve seen that the private sector model has not succeeded so far," Brant added, "and, through this way of doing things, if there is any profit it will stay with local people."

Jonathan Brown of the Merseyside Civic Society, concurred: "We fought against Prescott’s scheme and it’s great to have won all these years later. Local people have been let down over and over again for decades. I hope this now rolls out to other areas of the city in desperate need of regeneration."

Developments in this imaginative public-private partnership will be watched closely by other local authorities around the country. Despite the shortage of affordable housing, there are tens of thousands of derelict or abandoned properties that could be restored relatively cheaply. Liverpool may have stumbled on an effective solution.

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