More than 1,000 homes remain empty in Hartlepool after significant rise

Councillor Kevin Cranney.
Councillor Kevin Cranney.

More than 1,000 homes sit empty in Hartlepool after a drop in the number of properties brought back into use.

Hartlepool Borough Council bosses said the latest figures for 2017/18 showed there are 1,119 homes in Hartlepool which have been empty for at least six months.

This is a rise of almost 400 from 732 the previous year.

The statistics showed 70 empty properties were brought back into use in 2017/18, compared to 109 in 2016/17.

This is also below the target of bringing 100 empty homes a year back into use as incorporated in the Hartlepool Housing Strategy.

Council bosses said the number brought back into use is lower due to changes in national funding and also a target to bring more larger homes back into use.

Andrew Carter, council assistant director for regeneration, said: “Where we have a pot of money with regard to buying various properties, what we’ve sought to do is diversify and make better use of the money by buying higher value properties.

“If we were buying properties for between £20,000 and £50,000 it meant we could buy more properties with that money.

“We’ve sought to change that to where we buy high quality properties but obviously the pot of money is the same, we can only get so many of them for that value.

“While that is one element of it there’s lots of other things to do with the housing market, which properties come available and that sort of thing, there is a bigger picture.”

Coun Kevin Cranney, chair of regeneration, added the council has been hitting its target for empty homes.

He said: “The funding we receive for empty homes was reducing.

“Homes England changed it slightly, because they are the ones who give the money and there’s been big changes for them themselves.

“The other thing is we have come to the end of that first traunch of money, we hit our targets, now we’ve just got to the next stage that we have to negotiate.”

The figures came as part of the 2017/18 Authorities Monitoring Report endorsed by the council’s regeneration services committee, reviewing progress the area has made.

The report also stated the net opening stock of housing for the town was 43,614, with a net addition of 265, an increase on last year’s 185.

Going forward the council aims to meet the new net additional housing delivery target of 410 dwellings per annum.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service