Plymouth is launching its new plan to bring empty homes across the city back into use.
The Plan for Empty Homes is being launched by Plymouth City Council, with an aim of bringing 200 empty homes in the city back into use by March 2019. It supports the Council’s main Plan for Homes which aims to deliver 1,000 new homes every year over the next five years through a range of different measures. Over the past five years the Council has helped bring back into use almost 500 previously unused homes.
Plymouth is also being awarded with an extra £6.39m in New Homes Bonus by the government in recognition of the empty homes activity in the city.
The Plan is being launched at a house in Haystone Place, which has been empty since 2006 but has been bought by a private landlord through auction in the Homes Under the Hammer programme.
Councillor Chris Penberthy, Cabinet Member for Cooperatives, Housing and Community Safety, said: “Empty homes are a wasted housing resource for the city and this plan demonstrates the council’s commitment to tackling the issue, which was highlighted by the Plymouth Fairness Commission report.
“Empty homes also blight neighbourhoods, which has a direct impact on those people living nearby. They attract squatters, vermin, fly-tipping and arsonists. The value of properties near an empty house can be reduced by up to 20 per cent.
“The Plan for Homes sets out what we plan to do over the next four years to combat the negative impact on empty homes and bring them back into use.”
The house in Haystone Place is just one of a range of projects in the city to bring empty houses back into use. Over the last five years, the Council has helped bring back to use 493 previously unused homes.
There are eight main strands to the Plan for Empty Homes:
- Bring 200 long term empty homes back into use by March 2019. This will help meet housing need and maximise Plymouth’s receipt of the New Homes Bonus.
- Developing redundant commercial premises – the Council will work with business owners to explore new opportunities to develop premises which are appropriate for conversion into housing (reducing need to build on greenfield sites).
- Proactively approach empty home owners to find out what is preventing them from using their property and help them find ways to do so, offering advice and support.
- An Empty Property Sales Service will be offered by the Council, which will save empty home owners the cost of marketing their property for sale. We have over 150 potential buyers registered with us wanting buy run down empty properties.
- The Council will signpost owners to HouseLet and EasyLet, our own popular and professionally run leasing and letting schemes.
- The Council will offer a Lease and Repair service to help fund the renovation of empty properties, to bring them up to a letting standard and then lease from the owners for an agreed period of time.
- Enforcement action – owners who refuse offers of help may be subject to enforcement action via the use of Compulsory Purchase Orders, Enforced Sale Orders and Empty Dwelling Management Orders.
- The Plan for Private Rented Housing seeks to improve the condition and management of Plymouth’s housing stock and the quality of life of those living in it.
Plymouth received national recognition last year for its work on empty homes, with a visit from Helen Williams, Chief Executive of the National Empty Homes Agency, to a flagship project in Hoegate Street. Chapter 1, a national housing charity, is working with Plymouth City Council to bring the Hoegate House, the former job centre, back into use. When completed in Spring 2015, the conversion will provide the city with 30 one and two bedroom affordable rental flats.
For more information go to www.plymouth.gov.uk and search housing.