Leeds ,
03
December
2015
|
16:53
Europe/London

Thousands of empty Leeds homes brought back into use

Thousands of empty properties have been brought back to life with support from Leeds City Council.

The success is being highlighted as part of Empty Homes Week, running from 30 November to 6 December.

In the past five years, the number of empty homes in Leeds has been reduced by 3,000 as a result of projects run, direct action taken and investment by Leeds City Council.

On Cross Green Lane, a mid-terraced 19th century house had sat vacant for more than 15 years.

As the subject of complaints from locals, the council stepped in and took over the property with a compulsory purchase order.

The sale of the property to a private landlord coincided with the council’s sustainable communities investment programme in the area – a £9 million project to improve the energy efficiency and appearance of homes in a targeted location, regardless of ownership.

Participating in the programme meant the new owner benefitted from assistance to complete renovations to the outside of the property.

Councillor Debra Coupar, executive member for communities, said:

“This is just one example of a much wider approach to turn around empty properties and provide much needed homes.

“With significant investment, tackling empty homes continues to be a priority and the results so far speak for themselves – 3,000 less empty homes than five years ago.

“There is no mistaking that there is still much more to do. By building on our successes and continuing our support for the Empty Homes Doctor, the Leeds neighbourhood approach, empty home loans and buying back former council properties we can tackle empty properties head on.”

There are currently 5,491 long term empty homes in Leeds. Long term is classed as more than six months.

In five years, just over 3,000 empty properties have been brought back into use with the figure standing at 8,508 in March 2010.

To help owners bring them back into use a range of support is available.

As well as the sustainable communities investment programme, the council in partnership with Leeds City Credit Union offers up to £5,000 loans to help owners get essential works done to bring properties back into use.

The council also funds and supports the Empty Homes Doctor. The experienced team will discuss options and tailor an action plan suitable for each property owner. Owners are supported at each step of the process to bring a home back into use.

The Leeds neighbourhood approach sees the council work in specific areas where there are high numbers of empty properties and private rented housing. By working with landlords and owners empty properties are brought back into use and helping to ensure good standards of housing are met.

The council is also buying back former council homes that were sold under right to buy. If these properties have been empty for extended periods of time and if they are in areas of high demand for council properties, the council will buy them back and re-let them.

If anyone knows of an empty property that needs attention or owns one and would like assistance, should contact Leeds City Council on 0113 3957151 or arearenewal@leeds.gov.uk.