Hartlepool Borough Council chiefs don't want domino effect as it looks to address almost 2,000 homes standing empty
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Council tax empty property data from September 2023 showed there were 1,960 homes registered as empty in the town, equating to 4.4% of dwellings in the borough.
In total 264 have been empty for over two years, with 307 empty for between one and two years, 497 vacant for between six and 12 months and 892 empty for up to six months.
The statistics were presented as part of an investigation by Hartlepool Borough Council’s audit and governance committee into derelict land and buildings in the town.
Of the total number of empty properties, 85% are privately owned, 15% owned by housing associations and 12% deceased estates.
Councillors heard Victoria is the ward with the most vacant properties, with 367, of which 50 have been empty for over two years.
Next was Foggy Furze with 305, including 61 empty for more than two years, followed by Burn Valley, with 253 and 32 longer term vacant properties, and Headland and Harbour, with 225, and 39 vacant for over two years.
Tony Hanson, executive director of development, neighbourhoods and regulatory services, noted how there are various benefits in bringing properties back into use.
He said: “In terms of benefits for the wider community it obviously contributes to strong balanced housing markets and community sustainability.
“What we don’t want is properties which then encourage more properties to become empty and have a negative impact in the local area.
“And then obviously it reduces the risk of vandalism, arson, squatting and the fear of crime, so there are huge benefits as to why we try and address empty homes in areas.”
He added areas do need a small supply of empty homes however, ideally around 3%, to support housing growth.
Councillors heard there is various legislation which could be used to help bring empty properties back into use, but were warned this can be a lengthy and costly process.
Officers added work done on the issue includes securing external funding for empty home improvement projects, demolishing problem properties where possible, and developing new housing projects.
The council is also looking to develop a new housing strategy, along with working closely with social housing providers and investors.