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Scott’s ‘property guardians’ create living space in Bethnal Green’s disused BJ House

PUBLISHED: 18:00 21 June 2018 | UPDATED: 10:11 25 June 2018

Disused BJ House in Berthnal Green now turned to good use by property guardians. Picture: Julian Crowe

Disused BJ House in Berthnal Green now turned to good use by property guardians. Picture: Julian Crowe

Julian Crowe © All rights reserved 2017

A big old building in Bethnal Green had been empty for donkeys’ years until Scott Franklin’s ‘property guardians’ filled the space to make it useful.

Scott Franklin turns empty buildings into living and working space. Picture: Simon JacobsScott Franklin turns empty buildings into living and working space. Picture: Simon Jacobs

They have converted the old four-storey BJ House in Hollybush Gardens, off Bethnal Green Road, into living and studio space for the creative community—artists, sculptors, musicians and the like.

BJ House started life as a warehouse in the 1920s, then converted into offices some time around the 1970s, but had since passed its ‘sell by’ date and just stood looking unloved.

That’s until the former Canary Wharf banker spotted it and got a deal with the owners to make something useful of it.

“Most people see a nothing but a relic of the past when they walk past an empty building,” Scott says. “But I see a lifeline for those who don’t have the means to buy or are struggling to afford to rent.”

Scott meeting one of his 'guardians' liiving in what was an empty building till it's ready to be redeveloped. Picture: Simon JacobsScott meeting one of his 'guardians' liiving in what was an empty building till it's ready to be redeveloped. Picture: Simon Jacobs

Many disused buildings in prime locations, warehouses, police stations and pubs, seem to remain empty despite the housing shortage reaching tipping point.

So he gets deals with the owners to be the ‘custodian’ for a time until the buildings are redeveloped, often within a year to 18 months.

Scott, who grew up in Stoke Newington in a traditional Jewish immigrant household, was a leading investment trader at Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch when he got a taste for the creative scene.

He left the financial industry after 25 years to set up his own ‘property guardian’ business, turning to east London’s creative hub for inspiration.

A job well done... Scott has 'recycled' 20 empty buildings into useful living and working space. Picture: Simon JacobsA job well done... Scott has 'recycled' 20 empty buildings into useful living and working space. Picture: Simon Jacobs

Scott is currently looking after 20 sites like BJ House, helping ‘creative’ communities by being creative himself turning these unused assets into affordable spaces for those who wouldn’t normally be able to afford to live in such prime locations.

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