Cornwall’s Empty Homes
When talking about housing and Cornwall in the same sentence you often get the same replies. Too many second homes and not enough affordable housing. Both of these issues do have an affect on the housing stock in Cornwall, but there is another category that is hardly mentioned. And that is empty homes.
Empty home’s is a problem for Cornwall’s housing stock and as of 1st July 2012, there are currently 3875 properties registered as long-term empty in Cornwall. Now granted it is not always the fault of the owner as why a house is empty because many are subject to legal proceedings like probate, repossession, divorce etc. Besides the properties that are known to the Authority via the Council Tax register, the Empty Homes Team is in correspondence with the owners of 487 properties that are not registered as long-term empty, but are not in use.
However, there are many whose owners just does not care if their property is left empty. It is these that should be targeted to see what can be done to bring them back into use. Cornwall Council’s Empty Homes Team has had some success in bring these empty homes back into use.
In the last quarter of 2010, 89 homes were brought back into use. For 2012, a 142 and for the first quarter of 2012, 46. This is good news, but is only scratching the surface of the problem. More could be done, but this relies on more money being assigned to the issue. Central Government has awarded several million to help Cornwall Council, but this is like taking a bucket of water out of the sea.
In Porthleven, my last figures had 27 properties that are classed as empty homes. I have been working with the Empty Homes Team to highlight those have been long-term empty. The owners of these properties have been contacted, and some progress has been made. However if the owners still do not respond, Cornwall Council can use its powers of Compulsory Purchase. This though can be a long and expensive process, and has yet not used these powers.
Let’s hope by talking to the owners of the properties, a lot can be brought back into use.