Council to buy and renovate disused homes

MORE disused homes that have stood empty for years are to be bought by the council as part of its ongoing drive to put abandoned houses back into use.

Councillors at a cabinet meeting on Monday (October 3) agreed to make Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) on 14 properties in a bid to get the owners to take action.

Last December the authority voted to force through CPOs on a group of seven houses in the borough and as a result these have been renovated and are now occupied.

Since retaking control of the council in May last year, the Labour administration has made targeting empty homes and absentee property owners a key part of its housing strategy.

At Monday’s meeting, Cllr Jay Kramer said: “This has been a major problem and a blight in the town for years and the number of empty homes in this town is unacceptable.

“We threatened to compulsorily purchase seven such homes recently, but did not have to in the end as the threat was enough to get the owners to take action.”

Cllr Paul Barlow, councillor for Castle ward, said the issue of long-term empty homes had ‘ruined’ the lives of some of the residents in his ward.

He said: “There was one elderly woman who could not sell her house because of an empty property next door.

“The ceiling was falling in and it had been empty for 10 years.”

Cllr Peter Chowney said: “We need to give the message very clearly to anyone with a long-term empty home that we will get around to them.”