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The Norfolk district with 825 empty homes

PUBLISHED: 10:08 08 December 2019 | UPDATED: 17:07 08 December 2019

The Hillington Square estate in King's Lynn, which has a number of empty homes. Picture: FM

The Hillington Square estate in King's Lynn, which has a number of empty homes. Picture: FM

Archant

One Norfolk district has 825 empty homes, a new report has revealed.

Freebridge Community Housing's head office in Austin Street, King's Lynn. Picture: Chris BishopFreebridge Community Housing's head office in Austin Street, King's Lynn. Picture: Chris Bishop

West Norfolk has the largest number of empty homes in the county according to a new report by Great Yarmouth Borough Council, topping the list ahead of Great Yarmouth itself, which has 585 empty properties.

West Norfolk Council said 69pc of empty homes were owned by private individuals, while housing associations and businesses owned 11pc each.

They said the reasons for the empty homes in the area included the owner being in hospital or care, the property awaiting a probate to prove ownership and the fact they were owned by a charity.

It said that empty properties in the borough had decreased slightly between 2012 and 2016, from 1.48pc of all homes in the borough to 1.15pc.

According to the council there are no areas with significant numbers of empty homes with the exception of Hillington Square in King's Lynn, where they said the owner was reviewing their future use or undertaking refurbishment.

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Lesley Bambridge, a west Norfolk councillor who represents the St Margarets with St Nicholas ward, said: "For me it's very disappointing, particularly as I serve on the homelessness and housing task groups."

Its plan for empty homes includes contacting owners after six months to give advice on bringing the home back into use, and, if nothing is done, it says it will resort to enforced sales, empty property management orders and compulsory purchases.

The council said it had plans for a private sector leasing scheme with Freebridge Community Housing to create 40 new social homes from empty properties.

Sophie Bates, director of housing at Freebridge, said: "When tenants move out from our properties we usually take the opportunity while they are empty to complete any repairs that are needed, before making them available to rent again. As of today 42 properties are either currently being worked on, are in the process of being let to new tenants or are being advertised for rent.

"We also have a number of properties which are earmarked for re-development which we cannot rent out for a variety of reasons."

The report, which used west Norfolk as a comparison point for Great Yarmouth's number of empty homes, did not include data on other areas in Norfolk.


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