Breathing new life into homes

EMPTY homes in East Durham are to be brought back into use through a new scheme aimed at increasing affordable housing.

Members of Durham County Council’s cabinet will hear this week how the authority is planning to use a £2.12m grant from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and its own match funding to tackle the problem of long-term vacant properties.

The council is planning to purchase private sector properties in specific communities, bring them up to acceptable standards and offer them for rent.

Councillor Eddie Tomlinson, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for housing and rural issues, said: “Properties that stand empty for long periods of time often start to deteriorate.

“This obviously reduces the chances of them being occupied in the future and can have a negative impact on the look and feel of the local area.

“The Empty Homes Cluster Programme offers a new way of bringing these long-term empty homes back into use, providing much-needed affordable housing and helping rejuvenate communities at the same time.”

Each property will be leased to a registered provider who will use their own funds to bring it up to a decent standard and manage it for a period of 12 years under the new scheme.