New plans to cut empty housing

TWENTY-five empty properties are to be brought back in to use every year according to new council targets.

Scarborough Council is producing a new Empty Homes Strategy to address the issue of vacant properties in the borough.

The authority is proposing the new plan, which will run from 2011 to 2015, will follow a package of measures and actions to tackle the empty homes problem and bring at least 25 properties per year back in to use.

Such measures include targeting specific empty homes to bring back in to use, utilising an empty homes officer to tackle the issue and creating a provision of advice and guidance including web based information.

Andy Skelton, head of Environmental Services at Scarborough Council, said: “The new strategy reflects the need for the council to take a more strategic and proactive approach to bringing empty homes back in to use.

“With the recent Government cut backs to funding of new affordable housing bringing empty homes back in to use will be seen as an important too for increasing the supply of new affordable housing over the next few years.

“While there are no direct crime and disorder implications arising from this report it is widely recognised that long term empty properties attract anti social behaviour and reducing the number of empty homes will reduce instances of anti social behaviour.”

The new empty homes strategy is being developed as the existing strategy is now a number of years old and has been deemed by officials as “not fit for purpose”.

The number of empty homes within the council’s boundaries amounted to 1,869 in 2009, which represents approximately 3.4 per cent of the total housing stock.

Of that figure 702 had been empty for longer than six months, representing about 1.25 per cent of the total household stock and 37.5 per cent of the number of empty homes.

The new strategy states the vast majority of the empty homes are within the private sector. There are fewer than 100 empty homes within the social housing sector, of which a very limited number have been empty for longer than six months.

According to council figures the number of empty homes in the borough has significantly decreased since 2000 when there were more than 3,000 empty.