Plymouth celebrates empty homes success so far


Councillor Steve Ricketts with Thelma Cunningham from Empty Homes team and Sarah Jones who bought 66 Efford Road at auction.

Plymouth City Council is celebrating the success of its ongoing empty homes work as four more properties, which between them had been empty for more than 33 years, become available again.

In November the Council reported that three derelict homes were being sold at auction. Four months have passed since the auction at Shobrook & Co, and all three homes are about to become reoccupied following extensive renovation projects. Prior to the auction, the Council had started compulsory purchase and empty dwelling management orders against two properties in Efford Road and Fullerton Road, both of which had been empty for 15 years.

Both owners agreed to sell the properties at auction following enforcement pressure from the Council. The three bedroom house in Efford Road has now been renovated, and the four bedroom house in Fullerton Road, also empty for 15 years, is due to complete in April.

In addition, a large five bedroom Victorian property in Salisbury Road – which had been empty for eighteen months – sold at auction and is about to be placed on the market for sale having been renovated as a family home. The former owners of these properties all benefitted by bringing these properties back into use with all three accepting offers above the asking price. Hoe Gardens, along with a number of other properties, is also being renovated with financial help from Plymouth City Council.

The garden at Efford Road before the property was bought and done up.

A fourth property, Hoe Gardens, has also been renovated with £15,000 of help from the Council’s Financial Assistance Scheme.

The Council is working with landlords with the aim of bringing 375 long term empty properties back into use by 2021.

The Council launched its #EmptyHomesPlym campaign in October with the aims of encouraging empty home owners in the city to come forward and take advantage of the Empty Homes Financial Assistance Scheme and other support the Council can offer. Under the scheme, long empty home owners can apply for up to £50,000 per property in loans and grants to help bring their property back into use.

In the four months since the campaign launched:

  • 19 empty properties have been brought back into use (compared to just eight in the four months prior to the campaign launch). This brings the total empty properties brought back into use in the past 12 months to 59.
  • The first property to receive the Financial Assistance Scheme (Townshend Avenue) is complete and now occupied.
  • Six properties that received financial assistance are undergoing renovation, and the Council has received five planning applications proposing the conversion of five empty properties into 36 new homes. Four of these have been approved, with the fifth awaiting a decision.
  • Visits to the Empty Homes section of the Council’s website doubled compared to the previous period.

The newly renovated kitchen at 66 Efford Road.

Councillor Steve Ricketts, Cabinet Member for Transport and Housing Delivery for Plymouth City Council, said: “I’m delighted that these two properties are going to provide good quality family homes for people after being empty for such a long time, and I am even more pleased that this has been able to happen without having to take the full legal action. We would much prefer to work with landlords to bring properties back into use than have to go down the legal route, which is always a last resort.

“Over the past 12 months we have seen 59 empty properties brought back into use in Plymouth so we are on course to meet our target of bringing 375 back in use by 2021, but we can always do more.

“Long term empty homes are an eyesore, they are a wasted resource, and could be losing owners on average £10,000 a year each in lost rental and other income. The city also loses Government funding for each home that is empty, which affects all Plymouth residents.

“Empty homes can attract squatters, arson, flytipping, vermin and vandalism, and can also devalue neighbouring properties by up to 20 per cent.

“But the good news is that Plymouth City Council is here to help and if you are a long term empty home owner in the city there is a wide range of help and support available. Check out our website, like our Facebook page, or search #EmptyHomesPlym on Twitter or Facebook to find out more.”

More information is at www.plymouth.gov.uk/emptyhomes