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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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200 empty homes across Allerdale brought back into use

More than 200 empty homes across Allerdale have been brought back into use.

There were 926 empty homes in the borough in October last year but by August this year that figure had fallen to 722, according to a new report by Allerdale council.

The Council Commitment to Local Communities 2012-15 progress report, which will be presented to the council’s scrutiny committee on Friday, highlights a number of key issues in the area which have been tackled over the last year.

It says that the council’s technical reform to council tax in April has had a positive impact on reducing the amount of long-term empty homes.

The authority says the latest figures showing a drop of 204 empty homes “highlights how work collectively being undertaken by the council is reducing the number of long-term empty homes in the borough”.

It adds that a proactive programme for targeting empty homes in key town centre areas has been set up. The scheme sees council officers allocated a number of unused properties every month to visit.

Officers then use the ‘three-step approach’, identify, encourage and enforce, to deal with each empty home.

Meanwhile, as part of Allerdale’s ‘living over a shop’ project, also aimed at bringing empty homes back into use, interest free loans of up to £7,500 have been made available to owners of long-term empty properties in Cockermouth and Maryport.

The drive, which was launched in January, looked to fill 45 properties, but uptake has been slower than expected. Seven loan applications are currently being processed which could result in nine homes being made available.

It comes after the Government handed nearly £2 million to councils across Cumbria to help them breathe new life into empty homes.

Allerdale was given £113,000, Copeland received £49,000, Carlisle secured £128,000, and Barrow picked up the biggest share of £1.7m.

The cash was part of £91m being invested across the UK to revitalise 6,000 empty and derelict homes.

Government ministers said the issue is “most acute” in the north of England and the money would tackle problems like squatting and pest infestation, which have driven people out of communities.

It has been made available to social landlords and voluntary groups to turn around abandoned areas.

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