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Empty Homes Week 2019- Taking Action on Empty Homes

Bedford Borough Council works all year round to bring long-term empty homes back into use and this Empty Homes Week is celebrating successes from around the Borough.

Success stories have included the creation of two modern, semi-detached bungalows in Sharnbrook where the previous property had stood empty for 7 years and had become derelict, and a local eyesore. The two bungalows have been developed and marketed by ASKWilson Builders and are expected to be occupied soon.

The Council is not just working with properties owned by other people but is looking to lead by example, with eight Council properties having been refurbished and now being, or soon to be, brought back into use as housing.

One of these is East Lodge within Bedford Park, which was occupied by a Parks employee until December 2018. Since that time, works have been carried out to fully refurbish the property and it is set to be a new family home. The net proceeds from the rent on this home will be used to help fund the future upkeep of the Park.

In recent years, nearly £3million has been allocated to tackle long-term empty homes to fund the compulsory purchase of properties, which is the last resort after all attempts to work with the owner have proved unsuccessful.

In 2018/19 alone, 134 properties have been brought back into use following Council intervention. Locally we have seen a 32% reduction in properties that have been empty for over 5 years since August 2014 – although new properties come onto to the list each year, the net figure has fallen from 143 to 97.

Cllr Colleen Atkins, Portfolio Holder for Housing said “We are proactive about getting long-term empty homes back into use, improving our local communities and providing much-needed housing locally. It is extremely pleasing to hear these success stories, both out in the villages and in the heart of Bedford.

“This Empty Homes Week, take action on an empty home; if you have a long-term empty property or know of one please get in touch.”

Individuals and local communities can support the Council’s efforts to bring empty homes back into use by reporting empty properties to our Housing Strategy team via www.bedford.gov.uk/emptyhomes. If you have an empty property and would like advice on bringing it back into use, please contact the Housing Strategy Team on (01234) 718581 or email housing.strategy@bedford.gov.uk.