Brighton & Hove Council’s strategy to reclaim derelict properties has proved highly successful. In the last three years 400 empty homes have been brought back into use.
Serious restrictions on available land within the city and a political climate that inhibits new development has meant taking a radical approach to providing affordable housing for the city’s key workers.
Last year 129 privately owned long-term empty properties became occupied as a direct result of intervention by Council officers. The vast majority of these were achieved by negotiation and working with the owners, giving advice and assistance.
A new recommendation put before the Housing Committee on Thursday 15 December proposes that owners who have left their homes empty and neglected for more than one year could a face a Compulsory Purchase Order from the council.
Councillor Don Turner, Chair of the Housing Committee said, “The council has been running a highly successful and proactive Empty Property Strategy for the last three years.
"Our first approach is always to work with owners to help them, and where possible we offer Empty Property Assistance in the form of a grant, to return accommodation to a habitable condition. However, some owners are unwilling to co-operate and in these cases we need to consider other enforcement options which include Compulsory Purchase Order.
"In accordance with government guidelines, the council is permitted to make a Compulsory Purchase Order when no other way can be found to turn the situation around.”
There are approximately 8,000 people on the joint housing register, and the council’s latest Housing Needs Survey, (commissioned earlier this year), indicates a need for 1,202 additional affordable homes every year in the city.
Councillor Turner added, “There may appear to be a large number of empty properties in the city, but many are actually available to let or are waiting to be sold. Some are caught up in probate or are awaiting development. At the end of the day, the council has identified approximately 500 properties which are long-term empty and some of these will be suitable for acquisition by means of a Compulsory Purchase Order.
"Just one empty property can blight a pleasant neighbourhood, attracting anti-social behaviour, such as drug activity, squatting, graffiti and rubbish dumping. We want to improve the quality of life for everyone living in the city, and this policy, if approved, will make a big difference for people waiting for a home, or living in an area that has been adversely affected by an empty property.”
For further information on the council’s Empty Property Strategy contact the Empty Property Officer on (01273) 293297 or 293035.
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