Number of long-term empty homes in Cornwall reduced by nearly 800

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Cornwall Council has met its aim to reduce the number of Long-Term Empty (LTE) properties in Cornwall. 

There are now 800 fewer LTEs than a year ago, which is below the average for England. It marks significant progress from 2017, when the percentage of empty homes in Cornwall was a third higher than the national average.

A house that has been brought back into use in Cornwall

The figure revealed in the Government’s latest Council Taxbase for England, is 2,289, compared to 3,071 a year ago. It means that just 0.84 per cent of Council Tax-chargeable homes are now classed as Long-Term Empty, compared to 1.14 per cent a year ago. 

Across England, the number of LTE properties has dropped by about 30,000, with 0.97 per cent being classed as such, against 1.11 per cent a year ago. 

Olly Monk, the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Housing and Planning, said: “This is very positive news. During a housing crisis the last thing anybody wants is homes sitting empty. 

“Empty properties are simply a wasted resource. They can also be an eyesore for communities and cause other concerns. 

“This reduction is thanks to the hard work of the Council’s Empty Homes Team in our Private Sector Housing department, which communicates and engages with owners to help bring empty properties back into use through advice and assistance - including our successful Empty Property Loan scheme - and by taking enforcement action where necessary. 

“The Empty Homes Team is working hard to further reduce the number, and we are also continuing to work across a wide range of other initiatives to tackle the housing issues we are faced with from all angles.” 

The Council set out the target to reduce the proportion of LTE properties down to or below the national figure by the end of its Housing Service Plan for 2018 to 2022.  

Empty properties can be reported to the Council via a dedicated webpage and the Empty Homes Team also offers a service that matches owners of empty homes who would like to sell with potential buyers who want to bring them back into use. The team can also help supply evidence about how long a property has been empty, to help support potential VAT savings. 

Dealing with the issue of empty properties is just one way in which the Council is tackling the housing pressures facing Cornwall. 

In June the council announced its plans to tackle both the immediate issues around housing and the longer-term problems. 

Earlier this month the Council announced that it had bought 130 homes at West Carclaze Garden Village, taking them off the open market and making them available to local households in needs for social rent, affordable rent and shared ownership. 

A range of further initiatives is in action, from the provision of more emergency accommodation at New County Hall in Truro and Rosewarne Car Park in Camborne, to the purchase and refurbishment of disused properties around Cornwall, development of a landmark modular homes scheme near Pool and a significant ramp-up of the new ‘council housing’ programme, including a new site on the edge of Padstow.  

Story posted on November 18, 2021

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