Council wins £2.6m grant aid

TOWN leaders are celebrating after Hartlepool was awarded £2.6m of Government funding to help bring 100 empty homes back into use.

The funding, which will be match funded by Hartlepool Borough Council, will allow the local authority to buy houses across town and refurbish them.

They will then be let out and managed by a housing association.

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Regeneration chiefs had to bid for the funding and Mayor Stuart Drummond has confirmed that they were successful.

The £2,694,935 funding, announced by the Homes Communities Agency, will be equalled by the council, which means there is about £5m in the pot.

Mayor Drummond said: “This is great news for Hartlepool and we are delighted to receive this level of funding from the government.

“Tackling empty homes in Hartlepool is a high priority for the council and, along with the match-funding we have set aside, we will now be able to purchase, refurbish and bring back into use at least 100 properties.

“The project will help to regenerate certain streets in the town and provide much needed housing accommodation.”

Hartlepool did the best regionally out of the five North-East councils’ share of £7m.

Middlesbrough received £1,081,908, Newcastle £491,776, South of Tyne £619,638, Hartlepool £2,694,935 and Durham £2,124,474.

Regeneration chiefs in Hartlepool say empty properties are often the focus of complaints from local residents.

The council’s bid focused on the central area of Hartlepool and in areas next to major regeneration sites where demolition and new build has taken place.

Officers say the properties will be refurbished to a high standard and the scheme aims to provide employment and training opportunities.

The local authority is aiming to bring around 100 properties back into use over a two year period and the homes will be managed by Housing Hartlepool.

Following bidding processes, 20 successful councils will each receive a slice of £60m to tackle clusters of empty homes, and voluntary and community groups across the country will receive over £25m to tackle individual empty properties in their area, ensuring that another 5,600 empty homes are lived in once again.

Nationally there are 720,000 empty homes and the Government say they are aiming to breathe new life into affected communities.

Communities Minister Andrew Stunell said: “The number of empty homes in this country is a national disgrace.

“For every two families that need a home there is one standing empty.

“Empty homes bring down a neighbourhood and attract vandals and fly-tipping, as well as being a waste of much needed housing.

“I’m delighted to announce this funding boost today that will allow councils and community groups to bring these houses back to life and offer families a chance of a stable and secure home.

“We need to do much more to tackle this problem.

“This Government is breathing life back into these neglected neighbourhoods.”

Empty Homes Community Grant Fund schemes have been agreed in principle and are subject to due diligence checks.