Telford and Wrekin Council is aiming to breathe new life into long-term, empty residential properties and improve housing in the borough through a targeted five-year plan.
The authority will outline the ‘Long Term Empty Property Strategy’ at its next Cabinet meeting on Thursday 4 November, which aims to increase housing choice and tackle the blight of empty properties on local communities.
Long-term empty properties are those that have been empty for over six months and there are currently 1,009 in the borough, with 214 standing vacant for over two years.
As well as working closely with property owners, the authority is also setting out a robust enforcement regime which will start from the moment a property is reported as being empty and becoming an environmental issue.
Through the framework, which supports the council’s main Housing Strategy, the authority aims to make the best use of existing housing, support communities affected by empty properties nearby and provide homes for those in housing need, particularly the most vulnerable.
Over the next five years, the council intends to bring a minimum of 375 long-term empty properties back into use.
Commenting, Telford and Wrekin Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy, Housing, Transport and Infrastructure, Councillor David Wright said:
“Our neighbourhoods are great places to live but a sustained focus on long-term empty properties will enable us to tackle some of the most challenging properties which are impacting on our communities.
“We are committed to improving the overall condition of housing in the borough and increasing the affordable housing choice for our residents.”
Telford and Wrekin Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Enforcement, Community Safety and Customer Services, Councillor Richard Overton added:
“This new proposal highlights our commitment to bringing empty properties back into use, which we know can attract anti-social behaviour and have a serious impact on local communities.
“We are committed to working with owners but will also use our enforcement powers where we need to.
“Tackling these properties and improving the visual amenity and street scene in our neighbourhoods will have a knock-on positive effect by increasing the value of surrounding property and the overall attractiveness of the borough for investment.”
The council said that there are a number of reasons why properties become empty, including inheritance tax issues, lack of finance to carry out essential repairs or problems achieving a sale or let.
As well as this, the authority said that the owner may not be local or are in residential care, while in other cases some owners are simply unwilling to bring properties back into use.