Talks on revamping of street

A PILOT scheme which could see almost £500,000 spent on transforming a problem street is set to be discussed by senior councillors.

Officers at Hartlepool Borough Council want to revamp Baden Street, off the town’s Elwick Road, by offering cash incentives to landlords in a bid to improve their properties and tackle the problem of empty homes.

The street has become a target for thieves, vandals and arsonists in recent years.

Of the 45 houses in the street, 22 of them are currently empty, and the vast majority of properties are currently owned by private landlords.

The council’s cabinet committee is due to meet next week to discuss the phased scheme.

The pilot scheme, which has already won the backing of Mayor Stuart Drummond, involves:

l A £110,000 landlord incentive scheme offering the owners of empty houses the chance to apply for a £5,000 grant/loan to improve their properties to attract new tenants;

l More support for tenants to ensure rent and bills are paid on time and to give them benefits advice;

l A permanent police or security presence on the street costing in the region of £25,000;

l Grants worth £5,000 to improve those properties with existing tenants, at a cost of £105,000.

Meanwhile, a further £200,000 could be spent on improving the road layout and pedestrian access, subject to funding.

The total cost of the scheme, which is set to be carried out in phases, would be £465,000.

So far the council has allocated £160,000, but officers have yet to identify further funding.

A report by Damien Wilson, the council’s assistant director (regeneration and planning), said: “Given the shortfall in available funding against the indicative costs, it is proposed that a phased approach is implemented.”

Landlords are currently being encouraged to sign up, while detailed property surveys are also being carried out.

Council officers have previously said that they are determined to improve the street and will tackle landlords who do not co-operate.

If necessary, the council has the power to use compulsory purchase orders and empty dwelling management orders to take over problem houses.

The cabinet committee meeting is due to be held on Monday, July 18, at 9.15am, at the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road.