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Craven District Council

People in Craven urged to bring empty homes back into use as part of National Empty Homes Week

Craven District Council is urging residents and property owners to bring empty homes back into use as part of National Empty Homes Week.

National Empty Homes Week, taking place from Monday, 28 February to Sunday, 6 March, aims to bring empty homes back into use by highlighting the options available to property owners.

Two years ago, there were 74 private properties across the Craven district that had been empty for more than two years (excluding second homes). Since then, the Council has focused its efforts on returning these long term, “problematic” empties to use; first adopting a new Empty Homes Strategy in 2019 and then appointing a specialist, dedicated Empty Homes Officer - Bharat Mistry - to deal with the challenge.

The reasons properties remain empty are many and complex and the Council has worked closely with owners and communities to turn these properties into much-needed homes for residents. This approach has paid dividends, with the number of long-term empties reducing by around 20% (to 60 currently) since 2019 - no small achievement during the pandemic!

Councillor Richard Foster, leader of Craven District Council, said: “Empty homes are a wasted resource, particularly in areas such as Craven where there is a shortage of housing and significant market demand and affordable housing need.

“Empty homes also pose other problems for local authorities, owners, communities and the environment. They can blight an area and area often magnets for vandalism and anti-social behaviour.”

Sometimes there are empty properties that are unknown to the council, which might be causing concern for the local community. Residents can report an empty property to the council’s empty homes officer, Bharat Mistry, who will investigate further and contact the property owner and explain the options available.

As a last resort, when homes are left empty and owners aren’t proactive in returning them to use, the council can make a compulsory purchase order under Section 17 of the 1985 Housing Act.

Councillor Foster added: “There is no reason for a property to remain empty for two years or more in Craven. Any property will sell at a value that reflects its condition. The refurbishment of properties that are often in serious disrepair improves and adds to the housing stock and may ultimately reduce the number of newbuild homes needed.”

Anyone wishing to contact the Council’s Empty Homes Officer, Bharat Mistry, is asked to call 01756 700600.