Empty home rates fall after council action

Derelict: There are 1,943 empty houses in the area
Derelict: There are 1,943 empty houses in the area
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The number of empty homes across Central Lancashire has fallen almost 13 per cent since last year.

Latest figures show there were 1,943 homes classified as being empty for more than six months in Preston, South Ribble and Chorley, compared with 2,228 in October 2013.

The biggest decrease was in South Ribble, where numbers fell from 588 to 371 – a decrease of nearly 37 per cent.

In Preston, the number fell from 1,110 in 2013 to 1,061 this year, and in Chorley the number fell from 530 to 511.

Coun Cliff Hughes of South Ribble Council, said the issue of empty homes has been a high priority for the council.

He said: “We’ve done a range of work with housing associations, community groups, charities, landlords and property owners, and I’m very grateful for all their efforts, which are clearly paying off. We also added to our toolkit earlier this year, by removing some council tax exemptions for empty properties.

“We have given ourselves options so we can take the most appropriate action, whether that is through our empty homes grant programme or taking enforcement action where reasonable negotiations fail. I’m also pleased for the neighbours of previously empty houses, because these properties are less likely to attract things like fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour.”

Helen Williams, chief executive of the national campaigning organisation the Empty Homes Agency said: “The number of empty homes has come down in England from a peak in 2008, but with still about 200,000 homes that have been vacant for six or more months, there is a need for continued concerted action at a local and national level.

“Recent research from the Empty Homes Agency and the Halifax found that 78 per cent of British adults believe the Government should place a higher priority on tackling empty homes.

“Empty homes are such as waste give the scale of the housing crisis in England. With support from government housing investment programmes local authorities can work with other organisations to ensure they are brought back into use for people looking for decent affordable housing in their area.”

Coun John Swindells, cabinet member for planning and regulation at Preston Council, said: “We are committed to providing safe and sustainable communities in which the residents of Preston feel safe and want to live. This involves working with owners of empty properties to get them to a standard suitable for living in for future tena

“The council also works in partnership with Methodist Action North West on a ‘repair and lease’ scheme, a Charitable organizsation who provide loans to owners to assist with the cost of bringing empty properties back into use.

“I am delighted with the fall in numbers within Preston, and it shows what can be done to ease the housing need.”