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Friday, 31 October 2014

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Project will bring empty west Cumbrian homes into use

A scheme to bring 45 empty homes in Maryport and Cockermouth back into use has got the go-ahead.

Councillors voted to add £113,109 to £226,217 of Government funding for the project in Ellenborough, Ewanrigg, All Saints and Christchurch.

The £340,000 scheme will offer 45 private home owners, in the All Saints and Christchurch wards in Cockermouth and Ellenborough and Ewanrigg in Maryport, the chance of a £2,000 grant or an interest-free loan up to £10,000 to bring empty properties up to a standard so they could be sold or rented out.

The money could be used to carry out work on gas, electrics and insulation.

The areas in Maryport and Cockermouth were targeted for the scheme because they had 10 per cent of properties empty for six months or longer and were attracting anti-social behaviour and vandalism.

Councillors hope the scheme will help alleviate the problem of empty houses – and fill a gap in the housing market.

The scheme comes after figures released earlier this year showed Cockermouth was facing a social housing crisis, with 18 people bidding for every rental home that became available.

Between January 25 and April 25 this year, 218 expressions of interest were registered for just 12 homes in Cockermouth.

Across the Allerdale district there were more than 2,000 bids for 165 homes.

The council has warned that the whole district needs more good quality social housing.

Under the scheme which was given approval at Wednesday’s meeting, if the owners decided to take a grant, they would only have to repay the money if the property was not rented out within 12 weeks. Those taking out a loan would have to repay it within three to five years.

Empty commercial properties which could be turned into housing will also be considered.

Allerdale council submitted a joint bid on behalf of itself, Carlisle and Copeland councils to the Clusters of Empty Homes Programme, managed by Homes and Communities Agency, and was given a grant of £226,217 for Allerdale.

The bid was developed as part of Allerdale’s housing strategy for 2012 to 2015.

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