Grant hope for empty homes

AUTHORITIES across Suffolk are hoping to receive a £500,000 government boost to bring empty homes back into use.

AUTHORITIES across Suffolk are hoping to receive a £500,000 government boost to bring empty homes back into use.

The move could also provide more affordable homes for families across the county

Mid Suffolk Council, in partnership with other councils in the county, has successfully got through the first stage in a bid for more money, to help deal with long-term empty homes.

Following a competitive bidding round organised by the East of England Regional Assembly, the partnership made up of mid Suffolk, Babergh and Suffolk coastal and Ipswich Councils has been provisionally awarded the cash.

Squatting has been a particular problem in the Stowmarket area as youngsters have occupied a series of properties, including an empty £1.1 million mansion at neighbouring Great Finborourgh.

Anne Whybrow, Stowmarket town mayor and a county councillor for the community, said: “So many of our buildings have been used by squatters. We now have empty properties being boarded up immediately and the effect that has on the whole economy is very worrying.

Most Read

“None of us want to shop or live next door to buildings that are boarded up. If we can address these problems with Government money, then this is fantastic news.

“If there are any opportunities for homes to be put back into circulation for rental in any way, manner or form this has to be encouraged, and we should embrace this opportunity.”

Sara Michell, portfolio holder for housing at Mid Suffolk, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded these additional funds by central Government.

“With the economic climate as it is now, it is important that as a council, we do all we can to provide affordable housing for the people that really need it.

“Figures published by the Empty Homes Agency show that there are over 280,000 long-term empty private homes across the country at a time when housing need is acute, some 3,500 of these are in Suffolk.

“Not only do they represent a great waste of existing housing, empty homes also attract vandalism, squatting and anti-social behaviour and can have a serious and costly detrimental impact on their local neighbourhood.”

The councils will be busy through the Christmas period finalising the details of the joint project which has to be finally approved by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

The extra funds will be used to support a range of incentives to encourage owners to bring their properties back to life, such as grants and loans, where the owners may not have kept them up to a good enough standard to be able to rent or sell the homes.