Scheme aims to revitalise empty homes across area

Kettering Council is hoping to bring hundreds of empty homes across the borough back into use to try to meet the need for more affordable housing.

There are thought to be more than 1,200 empty properties in the Kettering area, which represents a little over three per cent of the total number of dwellings.

However, the council says there is currently a shortfall of about 3,000 affordable homes in the area and making use of some of the empty houses could help meet that demand.

The council’s executive committee met earlier this month where it approved in principle a strategy which could see the owners of empty properties contacted to see if incentives could help them to bring empty properties back into use.

As a last resort, the council said it could also take enforcement action against the owners of ‘problematic’ empty homes which are causing a nuisance to neighbours.

Cllr Steve Bellamy, who is the lead councillor on the scheme, said the plan had been approved by the executive committee but it still needed the backing of the full council before it could be adopted.

He added: “We keep a list of empty properties which is regularly updated and if people are aware of any which they have not reported then they are free to get in touch with the council to tell us about them.

“Although the number of empty homes in Kettering is broadly the same as the national and regional average, we are aiming to bring that figure down and make use of those empty homes.

“Housing is a key issue for everyone and something we need to make sure we sort out.”

The council said it has seen 500 previously empty homes returned to occupancy since 2007.

Most of these have been brought back into use by offering the owners grants, like the Decent Homes Grants, to improve the condition of properties.

However, in three cases the owners of the homes were forced to sell the properties because enforcement action was taken against them.