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Empty homes set to be brought back into use

Around £1 million could be raised by Stafford Borough Council if a new strategy to tackle empty homes gets the go-ahead.

A report to the council’s cabinet says the initiative would improve neighbourhoods that the empty homes are in and address community concerns - as well as bringing in hundreds of thousands of pounds to be invested in the borough over the next few years.

People will get the opportunity to comment on the proposed Empty Homes Strategy which will go before the authority’s cabinet on Wednesday (12 June).

Latest figures reveal that 670 properties have been empty for more than six months and the Borough Council wants to put plans into place to bring them back in to use.

Cabinet Member for Communities, Jeremy Pert, said making sure empty properties were lived in was much more than just a financial incentive.

He said the other benefits included:

·       More homes for local people to live in

·       Reducing vandalism and anti-social behaviour

·       Creating better environments for residents

The council will be working with owners of empty homes in a bid to get them fit for purpose - ranging from support and advice to providing loans for improvement work. The report states that compulsory purchasing a property would only be used as a last resort.

Councillor Pert, continued: “We have carried out a borough-wide assessment of all the empty homes to understand the extent of the issues involved and our aim is to bring 50 of these properties back in to use each year.

“This work would ensure that in spite of new homes being built in the borough, the issues of empty properties are being addressed as well.”

He added: “This strategy cuts across all our key council priorities - that is, it will deliver growth, improve quality of life for local people and support us financially.”

The scheme would attract money from government called ‘New Homes Bonus’ - which could see the council receiving £1,340 for each Band D property it brought back in to use for a four year period. 

The cabinet will be asked to give the green light for the strategy to go out for consultation, as well as approve funding for the work.

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