Plymouth City Council to invest £1 million in tackling empty homes

Plymouth City Council is accelerating its work to bring more empty homes in the city back into use.

The Council has approved investment of £1 million to bring 375 homes in the city back into use to meet the needs of local people.

Councillor Steve Ricketts, Cabinet Member for Transport and Housing Delivery for Plymouth City Council, said: “We’re committed to making better use of empty and brownfield sites, and ensuring more people in Plymouth have a place they can call home, and this ticks both of those boxes.

“It will also improve the local environment by removing eyesore derelict properties and the anti-social behaviour they often attract, so it is a win-win situation. I have seen for myself in visiting different parts of the city how long-term empty homes really can blight local communities and we are determined to do all that we can about that as one of our priorities.”

Councillor Patrick Nicholson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategic Housing, Transport and Planning, said: “We are committed to delivering 5,000 new homes in the city between now and 2021 and bringing empty homes back into use is one of the best ways for us to do this. We are continuing the cross-party work on this started by the last administration because housing is probably the biggest challenge facing Plymouth in the coming years. This investment sits well with the Plymouth Plan and what people have said about our strategic plans for the city for the next 20 years.”

The Plan for Empty Homes was launched in January 2015. So far, 83 empty homes have been brought back into use through the work of Plymouth City Council. It is estimated that the Plan for Empty Homes 2016-201 will:

  • Create 87 jobs in building and supply chains
  • Result in more streamlined and targeted legal action against owners who persistently allow their properties to remain vacant.
  • Establish a new empty homes financial assistance policy to help owners to sell, let or owner occupy their empty homes through new grants and loans.
  • Reduce carbon emissions – reusing empty homes can make an initial saving of 35 tonnes of carbon dioxide per property in comparison to building a new home (Building and Social Housing Foundation, 2008).

The Council has had a number of successes in its work on empty homes recently including:

  • The former job centre on Hoegate Street in Plymouth which had been empty for ten years has now been successfully converted into 30 affordable flats, thanks to a partnership between the Council, Empty Homes, the Homes and Communities Agency and Chapter 1 Charity.
  • The compulsory purchase order of an eyesore property on Widey Lane which was derelict for years but is now being developed.