Council is making great strides to bring long-term empty properties back into use

Long-term empty properties are being brought back into use across all areas of the borough as part of a five year Telford & Wrekin Council strategy.

Council is making great strides to bring long-term empty properties back into use

The council gave an update on its empty property strategy at cabinet today (Thurs) which aims to make the best use of existing homes, provide homes to support those who are vulnerable and in most need of housing and support communities by addressing the blight that empty properties cause.

Since the strategy was launched in 2021,117 long-term empty properties have now been brought back into use.

Of those, 2 properties had been empty for longer than 20 years, 4 had been empty for longer than 10 years, 3 properties longer than 5 years and 33 properties standing empty for longer than 2 years. 

By 2026 ,the council aims to have breathed new life into a total of 375 long term empty properties and is well on the way to reaching that target.

The council has a dedicated empty property officer who assesses and acts on empty properties which are reported via the website here.

One of the properties in St George’s had caused issues for neighbours and the council for over 20 years.

Given the damage to the property and state of property, the council served a prohibition order and supported the owner/occupier to be rehoused.

Thanks to the work of the Empty Property Officer, the council’s tenancy sustainment team, social services, auctioneers and solicitors the property has been sold and the new owner is renovating the property – stripping it back to brick, installing new windows doors, water, gas and electric and building a single storey rear extension.

Empty Property Officer Sally Culbert said: “This property is just one of the many properties where we have worked with owners to bring them back into use.

“It adds to the 117 we have helped bring back into use, where work on the property is complete and its occupied, since the strategy was launched.

“We’re delighted to see the renovation work which the new owner is undertaking at a property that has been a real cause for concern amongst neighbours for a long time. 

“Throughout this process we’ve kept in touch with neighbours to reassure them that we’ve done all we can to bring this property back into use.”

Other key objectives of the empty property strategy include contributing to a reduction in crime and fear of crime in neighbourhoods, increasing affordability and choice of housing for residents, support local high streets and borough towns by addressing empty residential properties above shops.

It also aims to address the negative impact of empty properties on communities by improving visual amenities, reducing antisocial behaviour and providing and creating local employment opportunities.

As well as working closely with property owners, the council has also set out a robust enforcement regime which can be used if a property is causing an environmental issue or is affecting the amenity of the area.

There are many reasons why properties remain empty which can include a dispute regarding the inheritance, lack of finance to carry out essential repairs or problems achieving a sale or let due to negative equity.

Also, the owner may be in residential care or not live local to the property and in some cases owners are simply unwilling to work with the council to bring the property back into use.

Councillor Richard Overton (Lab), Telford & Wrekin Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing, Enforcement and Transport said: “We want our neighbourhoods to be safe and attractive places to live but empty properties can attract anti-social behaviour and have a serious impact on local communities.

“This sustained focus on bringing long-term empty properties back into use is enabling us to tackle some of the most challenging properties which are impacting on our communities as well as improving the overall condition of housing in the borough and increasing the affordable housing choice for our residents.

“Initially when we launched the strategy the target was to bring 375 empty properties across the borough back into use by 2026 and we are well on the way to achieving that. 

“We will continue to work with our residents and local communities to tackle the blight that these empty properties cause and ask residents to bring them to our attention.”

If you are a resident you can report an empty property to Telford & Wrekin Council here.

You can view the full cabinet report here.