Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Getting empty homes back to use

There was a significant announcement yesterday by Andrew Stunell, the Lib Dem local government minister. He said that the Government are planning to allow councils to charge additional council tax on empty homes. Properties which haven't been occupied for two years or more could be subject to an additional 50% charge as a "nudge to owners to bring abandoned homes back into use."

This is the second piece of good news about empty homes in just a couple of weeks. The first was the awarding to Cornwall Council of just under £2 million in what is called the new homes bonus. This is money given on the basis of the number of new affordable homes built in Cornwall over the previous year. The council can spend it on bringing empty homes into use or on infrastructure projects to enable developers to build more affordable homes.

In Cornwall at present there are 9,407 empty homes. There is a legitimate debate about just how much new building we want in Cornwall, and where it should go. But what is unarguable is that it makes sense to get local families who need a home to occupy existing buildings first before we build thousands and thousands of new properties.

1 comment:

David said...

Alex, We also need to concentrate on properties here in Launceston which for a generation or more remain undeveloped. Walk up Exeter Street towards town and on your right the former work shops of Sprys have and continue to be an eyesore. Why has this been tolerated for so long?

Nowadays slightly less ugly is the site next to the conservative club in Western Road, prime location for flats, offices and retail also unused. Before any more planning permission is sanctioned on the edge of town we need to push forward plans in these locations.

If the property owners of these valuable locations drag their heels council should be prepared to introduce powers to threaten compulsory purchase which would be in the best interest of our community.