Getting homes back into use

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A GOVERNMENT scheme has helped bring dozens of boarded up homes back into use.

Hartlepool Borough Council has brought 70 empty homes back into use over thanks to the Government funded New Homes Bonus scheme.

The scheme has pumped £768,387 into the town since 2011 to help tackle a shortage of housing and provide a roof over the heads of hard working families.

A council spokesman said: “We remain committed to reducing the number of long-term empty properties in the borough and to increasing the availability of good quality affordable private rented accommodation.

“We are very proactive in engaging with the owners of empty properties to help them bring those properties back into use via the incentive schemes including the council’s Empty Property Purchasing Scheme and a pilot scheme with the Vela Group.

“Our aim is always to work in partnership with the property owners to bring properties back into use, but in instances where owners fail to respond, the council does have the option of taking enforcement action.”

The scheme helps to renovate empty houses by rewarding councils that increase their housing stock, by either building new homes or converting empty properties back into use.

The bonus matches any council tax raised as a result of these new homes, with an additional amount given for affordable homes.

The Government’s Communities Minister Don Foster said: “I’m delighted we’ve had such a positive start and encourage all councils to work hard in transforming empty properties which drag down neighbourhoods and instead turn them into homes fit for families.

The scheme has seen 1,200 empty homes transformed in the North-East thanks to £1.2m in funding.

More than £63m of additional funding has been made available by the bonus scheme to directly benefit local communities throughout the country, allowing councils to bring almost 38,000 empty homes back into use over the past two years.