A detailed plan is being developed to tackle the blight of more than 2,000 empty houses in community areas across Liverpool, and bring them back into use.
The Cabinet has been asked to approve a £5 million 10-point plan to address the “voids” across the city through new initiatives, including expansion of the pioneering Homes for a Pound scheme and more assertive action to acquire decrepit properties from inactive owners.
- Establishing an empty homes task force which will draw in expertise from the public and private sector, community organisations, social enterprises and housing associations
- Additional funds for acquiring and compulsorily purchasing properties and a voluntary acquisition scheme which will see homes sold on the open market following improvement, or leased to housing associations
- An expansion of the Healthy Homes vacants scheme which tackles poorly maintained properties and then bills the owners for the work
- The launch of “Homes for a Pound Plus” – a variation on the Homes for a Pound schemes but where the council will make properties structurally sound with owners required to carry out internal refurbishments
- The creation of a ‘loan and repair’ scheme to help owners make properties habitable
- The introduction of an “Interested Developer” list for small investors, local builders and accredited landlords who are interested in acquiring and refurbishing empty properties in the city. They will be connected with owners looking to dispose of properties
Joe Anderson, mayor of Liverpool, said:
“Empty homes are a blight on our communities and are a huge deterrent to people wanting to live in an area.
“We have made great progress in the last two years in bringing back 1,300 properties back into use across the city, but we are not complacent and know there is much more to do if we are to tackle this issue even further.
“We want to send out a strong message to the owners of empty properties that it is simply not acceptable to allow their homes to be a magnet for fly tipping, anti social behaviour and general blight.
“They owe it to the city and their neighbours to keep their homes in good condition, and if they don’t then we will take enforcement against them.”
Councillor Ann O’Byrne, assistant mayor and cabinet member also said:
“This commitment is in addition to the 1,000 homes we have already said we will bring back into use through our new strategic housing partnership with Redrow and Liverpool Mutual Homes. It takes to over 4,000 the number of empty properties we have either tackled or plan to bring back into use.
“Driving up the quality, standard and range of properties in the city is a priority, and this is just part of a much bigger picture such as the building of new homes and the introduction of landlord licensing to improve life for private sector tenants.”
The £5 million scheme fund has been provided by the council’s Capital programme and is to be supplemented through private investment, the recycling of funds through loan repayments, sales revenue, income from leases and charging owners for work carried out in default.
Words: Peter Cribley