A two-pronged attack could help more north Norfolk people find affordable homes nearer their roots and jobs, ease the district’s housing shortage - and end the blight of long-term empty properties.

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A scheme has been drawn up to tweak the point-scoring system, under which homes are allocated on North Norfolk District Council’s (NNDC) housing register, so that applicants are given greater priority if homes become available in an area where they have strong local connections.

And NNDC chiefs also want to tackle wholesale the problem of some 887 homes across the district which have been empty for at least six months.

They have drawn up an Empty Homes Policy detailing a step-by-step approach, hoping for owners’ goodwill in bringing properties back into use, but including a range of penalties if they do not co-operate.

The new allocation system, and empty homes policy, will both be considered by Monday’s NNDC cabinet with a view to recommending them to full council.

Cabinet member Trevor Ivory said there was a sense of frustration throughout the district about the blight of empty homes which often fell into disrepair and became a health hazard, attracting pigeons and rats.

The council had formulated its policy based on a pilot project last year which focused on three long-term empty properties in Weybourne.

Urgent structural repairs had been carried out and other improvements made, and one had been brought back into use.

NNDC chief executive Sheila Oxtoby said they had already written to 127 property owners asking what plans they had for their buildings. So far they had received 42 replies.

The council would be happy to advise owners on possible grants to help them repair buildings, but would also be prepared to get tough if necessary. Compulsory purchase would only be used as a last resource as it was complex and costly.

Anyone leaving their home to go into care, or with other good reasons for leaving their property empty, had nothing to fear.

Mr Ivory said at any time there were about 400 people in north Norfolk in urgent need of housing.

“This is not just about improving eyesores, it’s about making best use of existing housing stock,” he added.

The proposed housing allocations scheme, which also incorporates changes in national legislation, would mean that once those in urgent housing need had been allocated a home, those with a strong local connection would be next on the list.

Mr Ivory said public consultation by NNDC had shown that people’s difficulty in finding homes locally was a widespread concern and parish councils such as Blakeney, where there were a limited number of affordable homes, were especially keen that villagers should be given priority when any became available. If approved, the scheme would start in April.

7 comments

  • Lordy! Don't let Broadland D C know that some councils are actually trying to address the problem, they're still promoting second home ownership. Bless.

    Report this comment

    Homes4locals

    Monday, November 26, 2012

  • The scruffiest empty house around here is owned by a Parish Councillor. Damp, paint peeling off, abandoned car in the garden surrounded by weeds, overgrown shrubs etc. Nothing will be said to them I bet you!

    Report this comment

    samphirelover

    Wednesday, November 28, 2012

  • until this goverment stops carrying on with labour policy of racial descrimination in housing there will will never be enough housing for british people . Local people everywhere are being denied the chance of local housing because 50 per cent of social housing is going to immigrants

    Report this comment

    milecross

    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

  • All second homes, not used for tourism, should not only be charged the full council tax by one and half times. These type of homes contribute nothing to the local economy, except keeping house prices artificially high

    Report this comment

    weaversway

    Monday, November 26, 2012

  • Council tax multiplied by 4 times as a minimum? Nowhere near enough, multply by TEN and make them park the Chelsea Tractors outside Norfolk.

    Report this comment

    expat

    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

  • Agree with second home tax comments, they should pay extra if homes are empty most of the time. Fed up walking round mt Norfolk village every weekend and thinking i have been transported to the magic land of Barbour wellies and wax jackets

    Report this comment

    DaveG

    Wednesday, November 28, 2012

  • Council tax by one and a half times!!! No where near enough, if they sit empty for more than 50% of the year and are only used as holiday homes then council tax multiplied by 4, as a minimum. This is the only way the Chelsea Tractor brigade will ever contribute anything to the local economy. They are depriving the local people of living in their own village. Holiday homes are a drain on resources as opposed to a benefit.

    Report this comment

    Mr T

    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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