Council tries to breathe new life into derelict buildings

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EVERY effort will be made to ensure that empty residential properties in Calderdale are brought quickly back into use, the council has claimed.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy and Environment, Coun Barry Collins, said it was essential that as many properties as possible were brought back into the housing stock.

The problem of long term empty properties was recently highlighted in the Channel 4 series: The Great British Property Scandal.

On the back of that, the council has received several calls alerting it to empty properties in the area, as well as having been contacted by a number of developers and landlords interested in buying and renovating empty properties.

In addition, the latest meeting of Full Council approved the removal of council tax discounts for empty property owners. It is hoped that the decision will act as a disincentive for owners to continue to keep their properties empty.

Bosses referred to the example of a recent case of a house on Turner Avenue South, Illingworth, near Halifax.

Its owner disappeared and abandoned the property and it went quickly into a serious state of disrepair.

There were a number of debts created by the process of boarding up, making the premises secure and rubbish clearance. It was sold earlier this month at an auction in Leeds for £32,000.

Coun Collins said: “We have just had National Empty Homes Week and the council is keen to ensure that enough decent housing is available in Calderdale so that no-one need go without a decent roof over their head.

“Hopefully, the new owner of this property will carry out refurbishment and rent it out as soon as possible,” he said.

“Hopefully, this will encourage the owners of empty properties to bring them back into use so that the tenant can pay the council tax,” said Coun Collins.

Earlier this year councils and landlords were told they should sell or let empty properties at discounted prices in a bid to reclaim the one million empty homes in the UK.

Housing charity, Empty Homes, also called on the Government to allow local authorities to charge higher council tax on long-term empty homes so the revenue generated can be reinvested in bringing more vacant properties into use.