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Thursday, July 8, 1999 Published at 20:26 GMT 21:26 UK


Buy a flat for 50 pence

Dozens queue to say: "I'll take two"

Home hunters are being offered the chance to buy two flats for 50 pence each and convert them into a five-bedroom house.

The BBC's Richard Wells: "The property buy of a lifetime"
Similar flats in south London would cost more than 100,000 times as much.

There is just one catch - the buyers have to live in an area abandoned wholesale by families after a crime spree in the early 90s sent property prices crashing.

There are five pairs of flats on offer in the North Benwell area of Newcastle upon Tyne, all brick-built turn-of-the-century abodes that have fallen into serious disrepair and been boarded up.

[ image: The flats need a complete overhaul]
The flats need a complete overhaul
"Our target buyer is individuals who are prepared to repair these houses and move in as owner-occupiers, people who are committed to the long-term future of North Benwell and the West End of Newcastle," said Maggie Perry, of the Benwell Housing Association, the body launching the scheme.

As part of the contract, purchasers must turn their two flats into one family home and put up £12,000 towards the refurbishment work.

The rest of the renovation costs will be met by a North Benwell Homesteading grant and Newcastle City Council.

There are already dozens of people interested - the viewings are at the weekend - but if five buyers cannot be found, the flats will be offered to developers on condition they are sold on to owner-occupiers.

"I want it to look as good as it possibly can, and it's only going to look good if the boards are off and there are people actually living in the properties," said local resident Marion Chirnside.

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