December 20 2013 Latest news:
Monday, November 26, 2012
These before and after pictures show how a once derelict house near Norwich was transformed back into a home after it was seized by council bosses.
The property, in Wroxham Road in Sprowston, was highlighted by Broadland District Council to mark Empty Homes Week, which started today.
Council bosses say it is a prime example of their “carrot and stick” approach to tackling the problem of empty accommodation – first offering advice, encouragement and financial help, but prepared to use enforcement powers if all else fails.
The council’s policy is to contact the owners of empty properties after they have been out of use for six months, when previously it was a year.
Broadland can offer loans of up to £10,000 to help owners restore homes to occupation, as well as paving the way for 15pc VAT reductions on building work under certain circumstances.
But, in the case of the Wroxham Road property, all efforts to negotiate with the owner failed, forcing the council to use compulsory purchase powers as a last resort to prevent it falling into even more disrepair.
The house was then sold at auction to developers who have renovated it and brought it back into use as a family home.
Jo Cottingham, portfolio holder for communities and housing at Broadland District Council, said: “Early intervention means in most cases we can work with the owner to find out why the property is unoccupied and look for solutions.
“With so many people looking for a decent home they can afford, it’s essential that houses do not stand empty any longer than necessary.
“In a market where house sales are proving tricky and even new-build properties can stand empty for long periods, these figures should be seen as a considerable success for the council’s strategy.”
New figures released to mark the start of Empty Homes Week show there has been a year-on-year five per cent reduction in the number of unoccupied houses in the Broadland district, down to an all-time low of 402.