Council to up its efforts to re-use empty homes

NKDC offices, Sleaford.
NKDC offices, Sleaford.

North Kesteven District Council’s determination to make better use of the empty homes in the area steps up a gear during National Empty Homes Week this week (November 30 – December 6)

An improved section on the Council’s website launched this week makes it easier for owners of empty properties to find information and guidance on how to bring them back into use.

Alongside its endeavours in building more council housing and supporting increased availability of quality affordable housing, encouraging better use of all properties remains a strong corporate priority for the council.

In October there were 379 homes in North Kesteven that had been empty for six months or more (classed as long-term empties).

Of these 115 have been empty for two or more years; the ones which are harder to get back into use and require council input. This is 90 fewer than at the start of 2013, principally through the efforts of NKDC’s Empty Homes Working Group and dedicated officers whose direct help have supported the restoration of 100 long-term empties brought back into use over four years since 2011 – rehousing 100 families.

In many cases these have been in areas of acute housing need such as sought-after villages, Sleaford and North Hykeham, through the application of a variety of means including ‘lease and repair’ which enables the council to finance the improvements and let it as part of its own housing stock for an initial seven years.

The council says that not only does each house brought back into use represent a victory for a family in need of quality affordable housing, but also for the wider economy and community of North Kesteven – as they generate hundreds of thousands in terms of economic impact, help to support stronger neighbourhoods and more resilient shops, schools and facilities and reduce risk and incidence of anti-social behaviour.

Coun Stewart Ogden, whose Executive Board oversight includes housing, said: “Even though the number of empty properties seems quite high at 379, this is significantly better than the 553 of four years ago; representing good news on every level as lived-in houses are so much better for us all – our economy, communities and the local housing scene – than empty ones are.

“When we have a housing waiting list in the district of some 1,611 it should be clear to the owners of these empty properties that with some input and investment they could readily secure tenancies or sales which would not only benefit themselves but also the wider community.

“As a first step I advise anyone who lives nextdoor to an empty property and has concerns about it, or who owns one and wants advice on how to turn it around, to look up the Empty Homes information at www.n-kesteven.gov.uk or to call on 01529 414155.”