Empty Homes

In Cornwall there is alleged some 4000 homes that have been unoccupied for over 6 months. That in anyones book is a lot of homes that could be brought back into use.  Cornwall Council recognises that this problem should be addressed.  The trick is how?

In simple terms, and I believe a valid argument is why build more homes when there are many unused. Cornwall Council as the Local Authority has some pretty far reaching powers to address this.  The end of the scale is Compulsory Purchasing.  It does not like to use this lightly, but there is a feeling that these powers should be exercised to solve this problem.  In a recent survey that Cornwall Council undertook to help build a database on empty properties and  to make sure that the data held on them was correct.

This survey threw up some interesting figures which I will list below.

  • 13,398 Second Homes (Chargeable dwellings which are unoccupied and furnished)
  • 311 purpose built holiday homes that have some sort of restriction prevents year round occupancy
  • 3597 empty properties that have been empty for at least six months.

Now the first two bullet points are harder to address without a change in the law. Something that has not been fully addressed in the lofty towers of Westminster (and will it ever be??). The last bullet point is easier to address and is now being pursued by Cornwall Council.

How?  Well, Cornwall Council has made available a pot of money of around £1.5 million.  This of course could not buy up all these properties because the average price of a 3 bed property is around the £180k-£200k mark.  The way they are going to tackle it is to encourage those owners to bring them back into use for the population.  This could be done by loans to bring the building back to a habitual standard, advice on renting it out or others means of helping those owners.  If that fails, then I do feel that Cornwall Council will flex its might and head to the courts.

Now if anyone does know of empty properties in their areas, then contact Cornwall Council, or their local Cornwall Councillor.  Failing that, drop me a e-mail and I will make sure the property is investigated.

3 comments

  • Anonymous

    Its the most sustainable solution, bring these houes up and over the decent homes standard, retrofit them with energy efficiency measures, and it will stop the eating away of greenfield sites and the council's intent on allowing cross subsidy of open market housing to supplement affordable housing on exception sites. The most sustainable development is the one that never has to be built in the first place!!

  • Anonymous

    I would imagine that the amount of empty properties is much higher, than the present figure. Take for example above shops in town centers, lots of free space that could be made suitable for accommodation, just a thought.

    I personally think the Council should use the money available to extend the part rent part buy scheme, which at the moment is very limited. The money available to the Council is very limited but by using this scheme it can help people onto the housing ladder and minimise the financial exposure for the Council. In so doing allowing the council to free up more of the existing cornish housing stock…
    Rob

  • David Ireland

    Good post councillor, you should know that we helped Cornwall get a grant from CLG to develop it's work on empty homes and we will be working with the council over the next few months to help. Also you may find this is an easier way to tell the council about empty homes. http://ReportEmptyHomes.com

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