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Empty Homes

National Empty Homes Week

30 November - 6 December 2015

 

National Empty Homes Week creates an opportunity to highlight the continuing waste of resources and blight on neighbourhoods across the country created by empty homes.

 

Bedford Borough Council has over 1,000 households on the Housing Register waiting for a suitable property.  In the borough there are almost 500 properties which have been empty for over a year.

 

The most effective action available to the Council where owners fail to act themselves is compulsory purchase of the property. In 2014, the Council intensified its effort to tackle this problem and allocated nearly £3million to this programme, the great majority of which will be recovered through sales which will be conditional on the property being returned to use.

 

Sixteen compulsory purchases have been started.  One property at 26 Edward Road had been empty for 14 years and was in a very poor state.  Following the Council’s compulsory purchase its refurbishment is almost complete, restoring the house to a habitable property.

 

Cllr Colleen Atkins, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Regulatory Services at Bedford Borough Council, said: “The Council is working hard to reduce the number of empty properties in the borough to provide much-needed homes.  I visited one property the Council bought a year ago. It was in a terrible state and it is great to see the transformation that has been achieved by the new owner.”

 

The Council regularly contacts owners of empty properties to discuss their plans and encourage them to bring the property back into use.  Where owners of vacant properties are doing nothing and allowing a building to fall into dangerous disrepair, the Council can pursue them and, if necessary, issue a Compulsory Purchase Order.

 

In the last fifteen months this policy has helped reduce the number of homes recorded as empty for over six months from 951 to 781– a reduction of nearly one in five.

 

Individuals and local communities can play an important role by reporting empty homes to the Council so the action can be taken to bring them back into use.  All reports received are treated in confidence and investigated by the Housing Strategy Team. Their contact details are:

 

·        Barry Garner on 01234 718581

·        Melvyn Bower on 01234 718585

 

Alternatively, contact the Housing Strategy Team via email at housing.strategy@bedford.gov.uk

 

Reports can also be made directly by logging on to the Empty Homes section of the Council’s website http://www.bedford.gov.uk/

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