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
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
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
· Melvyn Bower on 01234
Alternatively, contact the
Housing Strategy Team via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reports can also be made directly by logging
on to the Empty Homes section of the Council’s website http://www.bedford.gov.uk/