Bungalow left to decay for 16 years set to be bought by local council

The owner of a bungalow which has lain empty for more than 16 years could be forced to sell it to South Ribble Borough Council.

The bungalow has been empty since at least April 2002.
The bungalow has been empty since at least April 2002.

The semi-detached property, on Rhodesway in Hoghton, has become increasingly derelict since it was abandoned in early 2002.

The authority has spent the last five years trying to negotiate a sale with the person they believe owns the plot. But Jonathan Noad, the borough’s director of planning, told a cabinet meeting that there was only a “very limited time” that those talks could continue.

Members have now voted to authorise the “last resort” of a compulsory purchase order (CPO), in order to bring the property back into use and rectify a blight on the local landscape.

Councillors heard that the dwelling is “uninhabitable” and in significant disrepair, deteriorating severely, both internally and externally”. Its poor condition has now begun to affect the adjoining property, which remains occupied.

Warren Bennett, cabinet member for resources, said the move was “long overdue”.

“I was walking my dog past there and it is in an awful state. You can hardly even see the building now - there’s vegetation all over it and the detrimental impact on neighbours is absolutely enormous.

“It also sends out a message. [Compulsory purchase] is not something this authority really does, but I think that when we do have properties which have such a significant impact on the local community, it is important that we are willing to act on the powers that we have,” Coun Bennett added.

It is estimated that the cost to the council of acquiring and reselling the property will be between £16,000 and £19,000, reflecting the market value of the bungalow in its current condition.

If the reputed owner does not provide evidence of their interest in the property, any money due under the CPO is paid to a court. The individual would then have 12 years to lay claim to the cash.

Cabinet heard that there had been no meaningful attempt to repair the property, but the borough’s chief executive, Heather McManus, reassured members that the authority had done everything possible to engage with the individual.

“This council should do all it can to try to negotiate the acquisition of this property by agreement [with the owner]. Only when we have exhausted that would be successful in achieving a compulsory purchase in any case,” Ms. McManus said.