Call for action over "scandal" of empty houses - Hunts Post

Brampton City Council's John Morris said the district was facing the "scandalous situation" of more than 400 homes that had been empty for more than six months. At that time, almost 3,500 households were registered.

He wants the Council to set up a strategy for an empty home, such as one in Peterborough, where the Council managed to get nearly a third of its long-term empty houses operational again last year.

City Councilor Ryan Fuller, vice chairman of the conservative council responsible for housing and planning said: "The district council is taking its role in the housing market very seriously and is working hard to contribute to the number, locations and types of homes, which best meet the family needs of our communities, and to create flexible workforces for our employers. "

Cllr Morris, a Liberal Democrat, said: "I am very much interested in encouraging the Council to take action over empty houses in the longer term."

He said that over the past four years, the council has accepted nearly 1,000 households as homeless by law and spent nearly £ 475,000 on bed and breakfast accommodation last year.

Cllr Morris said that since last April, the Council has spent more than £ 170,000 on accommodation in Travel Lodge, and that the Council spent more than £ 1.4m on a bed and breakfast hotel between 2010 and March last year ,

He wants the Council to offer the owners of long-term empty houses, possibly with an interest-free loan, financial support to get them back into service in conjunction with a private sector leasing program.

Cllr Fuller said, "Our next local plan is to provide more than 20,000 new homes across the district, with the expectation that 40 percent will be affordable housing.

"We are already making good progress: in 2016/17, 682 new homes were completed in Huntingdonshire with 188 affordable homes. The pace of deployment of developers is increasing and these numbers are expected to increase to an estimated 1,265 new homes in 2018/19 and to 1,864 in 2020/21. "

Cllr Fuller said that he passed a multi-action housing strategy last year, working with professionals to influence the supply and type of housing, and considering considering setting up a housing delivery vehicle to "leverage" the supply of new homes.

He said the district had the best record of empty houses in the county with only 120 emptied for over two years and that Cllr Morris's figures also contained only temporary empty houses.

Cllr Fuller said that access to housing was an important issue for the Council, which prevented homelessness.

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