£500k plan for problem street

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A PROBLEM street could be transformed in a £500,000 pilot scheme.

Officers at Hartlepool Borough Council are currently working on proposals to tackle the problem of empty homes in Baden Street which have become a target for thieves, vandals and arsonists.

There are 45 houses in the street and 22 of those are currently standing empty.

The vast majority of properties are owned by private landlords and council officers are concerned that because of the problems the demand for housing is low.

Residents, ward councillors and the police have all called for urgent action to be taken.

Labour councillor Jonathan Brash, who represents the Burn Valley ward, has regularly appeared in the Mail alongside fellow ward councillors to highlight the problems in the area.

A number of proposals have been put forward including:

l A landlord incentive scheme costing £120,000 which offers the owners of empty houses the chance to apply for a £5,000 grant/loan to improve the outside and inside of their properties in a bid to attract new tenants.

l More support for tenants to ensure rent and bills are paid on time and to give them benefits advice.

l There could also be a permanent police or security presence on the street costing in the region of £25,000. A feasibility study is being worked on which could see the police take over a property on the street.

l A total of £200,000 could also be spent on improving the road layout, pedestrian access and boosting the overall environment.

l There could also be grants worth £5,000 to improve those properties with tenants, at a cost of £105,000.

Regeneration officers say they will also look to tackle landlords that do not co-operate.

Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond is asked to endorse the scheme and to commit in principle to using council funds, at a meeting of his community safety and housing portfolio.

If Mayor Drummond backs the plans then detailed property surveys will be carried out and the incentive scheme will be promoted over the summer.

A report by Andrew Golightly, a senior regeneration officer, said: “Resources are going to be required to fund whatever solutions are suggested to address the problems in Baden Street.

“Clearly resources available for dealing with these type of issues in the current economic climate and against the backdrop of council budget reductions are limited.”

If successful, the pilot scheme could be extended to other areas of Hartlepool.

The portfolio meeting is set to take place on Friday, May 20, at 10am at the Civic Centre.