A senior councillor is urging owners of empty homes in Stafford Borough to work with the council to help bring them back in to use.
The call comes as part of ‘Empty Homes Week’ - with the Borough Council revealing photographs which highlight the work done to get an unsightly house on the market.
The property was in the village of Great Haywood just outside Stafford where the house had fallen into disrepair after the owner moved away from the area to be closer to family.
Neighbours complained because the house became an eyesore and the council worked with the owner to get the house to auction. The house was bought, renovated and has now been sold on.
Pam and Dave Rowley, from Great Haywood, got in contact with the council about the neighbouring property. Dave said: “The house next door had been empty for several years, gradually falling into disrepair. We contacted the Borough Council who sympathetically encouraged the owner to do something about it. It is now awaiting its new owners to move in and is no longer a detriment to the neighbourhood.”
Councillor Jeremy Pert, Cabinet Member for Communities, urged people not to ‘bury their heads in the sand.’ He said: “There are many reasons why a house may be left empty for lengthy periods such as the case we have highlighted this week.
“This was obviously a very difficult time for this lady - but also tough on the neighbours who had to suffer an unsightly house next door and were stuck in limbo as to what they could do.”
There are more than 600 properties that have been empty for more than six months in the borough with the council currently consulting on a new draft strategy to bring them back in to use.
Filling empty homes can bring in extra money for the authority and as well as the financial benefits it means:
- More homes for local people to live in
- Reducing vandalism and anti-social behaviour
- Creating better environments for residents
Council initiatives include interest free loans of up to £10,000 to help people do properties up and specialist advice about getting a home on the rental market.
Councillor Pert continued: “I’d encourage anyone who has an empty property, and struggling to do anything with it, to contact us to see if we can help. The key message is; don’t bury your head in the sand. We can help - but it is better to do that earlier rather than wait until a property is in a very poor state.
Filling a long-term vacant property attracts money from government called ‘New Homes Bonus’ - which could see the council receiving £1,340 for each Band D property it brought back in to use for a four-year period.
Councillor Pert added: “I hope ‘Empty Homes Week’ will help increase awareness of how we can help to ensure empty properties are not a blight on the community.”
The draft empty homes strategy consultation ends on Wednesday 30 October and to give feedback go to www.staffordbc.gov.uk/empty-homes
Press Release No 5563