Pendle Council continues to reduce empty homes

The number of empty homes in Pendle continues to fall – Executive Councillors will receive an update on progress made against the Empty Homes Plan when they meet next week.

Pendle Council’s Housing Standards team has reduced the level of empty homes – often associated with anti-social behaviour – from 2,000 in 2008/09 to 1,200 currently.

Also at their meeting on Thursday 19 March, Executive councillors are expected to adopt the Empty Homes Action Plan 2015/16 to continue this positive work.

Councillor Joe Cooney, Leader of Pendle Council who leads on housing regeneration in the borough, said:

“Empty homes are a key factor in low demand housing areas. They’re a wasted asset which can cause neighbourhoods to decline through associated anti-social behaviour and untidiness.

“Over the last few years we’ve made excellent progress against our targets – in the last 12 months alone we have brought over 500 properties back into use.

“The introduction of the Empty Homes Premium in the Council Tax in 2013 has had a significant impact on the reduction of long term empty properties. Many more owners of vacant homes are now working with us to find out about their options to bring the properties back into use.”

The Empty Homes Action Plan for 2015/16 recognises that there are still clusters of empty homes in problems areas.

It aims to tackle these through a range of interventions with private landlords and property owners including the Empty Homes Loan Scheme.

This is available to owners of properties that have been empty for six months or more.

Owners can apply for loans for up to 80% of the cost of works to make their properties ready for occupation, up to a maximum of £15,000.

These Empty Homes Loans are interest free for three years.

Julie Whittaker, Economic & Housing Regeneration Manager, said:

“Although we’ve been successful in reducing the number of empty properties to a figure below the target set in the Sustainable Communities Strategy, there are still clusters of empty properties that continue to cause problems and attract anti-social behaviour.

“The plan for 2015/16 looks at ways of building on our successes and developing new ways to bring the more challenging long term empty properties back into use.

“In turn, we hope to be able to increase the level of New Homes Bonus we can attract to Pendle.”