Friday, 19 July 2013

Lancaster City Council steps up action on empty homes

Coun Karen Leytham, cabinet member for housing, welcoming Andrew Dent, Lancaster City Council's new Empty Homes Officer.
Lancaster City Council is stepping up action on tackling empty homes and bringing them back into use.

Andrew Dent has been appointed as the council’s new Empty Homes Officer, whose job it will be to deliver a range of actions to reduce the number of empty homes in the district.

His work will form part of the council’s Empty Homes Strategy, which has received another boost as a result of £750,000 in funding recently won by one of the council’s housing partners.

The Preston-based charity Methodist Action (NW) has just been allocated the funding, which will be targeted at bringing empty properties back into use across the Lancaster district, Preston and South Ribble.

Some of the new funding will be spent on up to 17 properties in Lancaster that have been empty for more than six months.

In return the properties will be leased by Methodist Action (NM), usually for a 10 year period, who will work in partnership with the city council to find suitable tenants.

Councillor Karen Leytham, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Housing and Environmental Health said:  "The council is committed to tackling empty homes and we are delighted that Methodist Action NW has been successful in securing this further funding. The properties brought back into use will provide much needed housing for local people in housing need.”

Andrew Dent, the city council’s new Empty Homes Officer, added: “I am extremely excited to be fulfilling this new role for the city council. Empty properties can be a detriment to an area, for example they look unsightly and are known to attract anti-social activities. By bringing an empty property back into use, these issues are alleviated.

“The majority of my work will be informal, in which I will be working with landlords, offering guidance, advice, and potentially financial assistance via the Methodist Action loan scheme. However, if empty property owners are unwilling to co-operate, the council does have enforcement powers available in the form of undertaking works in default and enforced sales.”

• Any owners of empty properties who might interested in participating in the Methodist Action scheme should contact the Regeneration and Planning Service by email at emptyproperties@lancaster.gov.uk or by telephoning 01524 582375/582362.

• If you want to see some action being taken about an empty property near you, or are the owner of an empty property and need help and guidance, Andrew Dent can be contacted via email at adent@lancaster.gov.uk or by telephoning 01524 582321.

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