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Bringing empty properties back into use

Empty properties blight communities and, with the provision of housing high on the national agenda, bringing them back into use seems like one obvious way to help meet local needs.

Here in the Staffordshire Moorlands there are 1,173 empty homes and 338 vacant non-domestic properties and the District Council has announced plans aimed at addressing this issue so that these buildings can once again be occupied.

Councillor Mike Bowen, cabinet member for housing and communities, said:

"Leaving properties empty is not just a waste of a building it can also have negative impacts on communities such as attracting vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

"Properties can become unoccupied for several, sometimes complex, reasons so tackling this issue isn't always straightforward but it is one of the key ways the Council can help to meet the need for good quality housing in the Moorlands.

"We want to work with, and support, owners and landlords to help them return building to positive use, and thereby address the various issues resulting from empty properties. I'm pleased, therefore, that by agreeing the Empty Property Strategy, the Council is showing its commitment to actively addressing these issues."

The Council's Strategy also seeks to:

  • Raise awareness of the issues caused by leaving properties empty
  • Minimise the number of properties that become empty for long periods
  • Provide sustainable development by reducing the need to build new properties
  • Improve housing conditions and prevent the deterioration of existing buildings

Councillor Bowen added: "Leaving properties empty benefits no-one and it is not a no-cost option as Council Tax and business rates are often still payable on unoccupied premises and we'll be working with owners and landlords to raise awareness of the support available to them.

"We will still need to build new homes in the Moorlands to meet demand but it makes no sense to ignore existing properties - both homes and businesses - which could be returned to use and reduce the need for us to consider developing greenfield sites."