Councillor Lyn Ackerman
Almost 3,000 homes across the county borough are lying empty, according to information obtained by Plaid Cymru.
Crucially, 888 of the 2,874 homes vacant have been empty for more than a year, according to a response to a Freedom of Information request by a supporter of the Party of Wales. The figures cover the position at September 26, 2013
Shadow Housing spokesperson Lyn Ackerman, who represents Newbridge, said: “With so many people desperate for an affordable home, it is disappointing that so many properties are lying empty.
“Vacant homes can blight communities, attracting vandals and affect neighbours who can see the value of their homes devalue if properties are left empty for a long time. I have particular concerns about the number of homes which have been vacant for more than a year.”
Lyn Ackerman said that she had asked for a report on voids and empty homes and wanted to find out what action was being taken to deal with a problem. I asked at the last housing meeting for a report on voids and empty homes
Councillor Colin Mann, leader of the Plaid Cymru group, said: “All local authorities face a significant challenge from empty homes. According to Shelter bringing empty homes back into a liveable state can cost on average as little as £6,000 to £12,000, so with reasonable investment a lot of properties can be brought back into use. With the support of the Welsh Government, these empty homes figures can be reduced.”
The council is currently reviewing its Housing Renewal Strategy with the intention of introducing a revised strategy in April 2014. This, according to the council may impact on the availability of certain grant types in the interim period.
The authority offers home improvement grants to owners of empty properties. These grants are discretionary and are targeted at properties that are in poor physical condition and appearance and have a negative impact on the neighbourhood. £15,000 is available for properties that have been empty for at least 12 months.