The government told social landlords to bring 3000 empty properties back into use and gave them a £100m fund to do it. Even so, The Willows in Llangolen was not the most obvious place to start. This Grade II-listed mansion had been derelict for 30 years before Denbighshire Council bought it for £1 and then spent £429,000 refurbishing it. It was just after the builders took the roof off that empty homes officer Wendy Dearden wondered if her pet project was such a good idea after all: ‘Someone put their foot on one of the walls and the whole wall, three storeys down, wobbled.’ But a year, and much shoring up of those walls later, The Willows has been converted into three unique, two-bedroom flats right in the city centre – social housing gold dust. I found out how, in this piece for Inside Housing’s construction special.