Empty homes across Southend could soon be brought back into full-time use under ambitious new plans from the local authority.
Local publication The Echo reports council leader Nigel Holdcroft has put forward proposals that could drastically cut the number of unoccupied properties in the area over the coming years.
He stated the council is keen to tackle its growing list of individuals waiting for local authority properties – 1,200 people at present – and in order to do this he is putting forward plans for many of the 2,600 empty homes across the constituency to be seized for renovation and placed back on the market.
It follows lobbying by the residents of Roedean Gardens in Southchurch for the council to take action over a derelict home that has remained unoccupied for more than the last two years, but the move plans to go much further than simply addressing this single case.
Mr Holdroft stated: “It does seem rather ridiculous that council policy means we have to wait ten years to introduce a compulsory purchase order. It is just unnecessary that we have placed this restriction on ourselves which wasn’t set by government.
“It is particularly important in a built-up, urban area like Southend, where there’s a constant need for housing. It’s very frustrating for there to be so many empty properties, we want to doing everything we can to bring them back into use.”
The move has already received plenty of enthusiastic support from local residents, with 75-year-old Bob Day of Ashurst Avenue just one of a number of individuals who gave their backing to the scheme when approached by the local publication for comment.
It has also garnered support from other council members, with Martin Terry, leader of the Independent group on the council, stating: “I’m very supportive of the new compulsory purchase order policy.”
He added there are many properties across the constituency that could benefit from this local authority action.
It is not the first such initiative that has been put forward by councils across the UK in recent months, with landlords in Stockton-on-Tees having been sent letters from Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council at the start of September to assess the extent of the issue of empty homes across the area.
Upon completion of the survey, the authority will offer assistance to property owners in renovation works for empty homes and in finding suitable tenants once they reach the required standards.
Individuals keen to ensure their property remains insured despite it being left unoccupied for 30 days or more should get in touch with the expert team at GSI Insurance Services (Southern) Limited.
We offer comprehensive unoccupied homeowners insurance to give peace of mind to property owners that their belongings and the structure of their building will remain financially protected even when they are not there for prolonged periods.
Furthermore, when owners are ready to move back in, they can easily transfer the policy back to the terms of a standard home insurance deal with just one call.