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As we approach the 2016 Empty Homes Awards season, it's worth refreshing memories with a look back at last year's awards.
We've already covered the Practitioner of the Year Award and the Best Local Authority / Community Housing Organisation Awards, but we haven't given the details of last year's award for the best partnership between a local authority and a housing assocation.
DCLG and HM Treasury are consulting on further changes to the compulsory purchase legislation. Most of the changes do not seem to affect empty homes work but important changes to the arrangements for basic loss adjustment seem to offer some hope that CPOs of eyesore empties could become cheaper - depending exactly how the rules might be interpreted.
The Empty Homes Network has published a brief document inviting the candidates in the election for London Mayor to consider the development of a London-wide Empty Homes Initiative.
No Stone Unturned - subtitled 'An Empty Homes Initiative for London' - identifies numerous benefits of a regional approach, citing the initiatives in Kent, Scotland and Wales as exemplars.
Two leading self-help housing organisations from have scooped World Habitat Awards in the 2015-16 competition. Girsocope and Canopy, both well-known for their innovative approaches to tackling empty homes, offered a joint submission under the heading "Self-Help Housing in the North of England". They were announced as winners on the 29th February (along with a Puerto Rican Community Land Trust).
Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Anglesey, Conwy, Ceredigion, Powys, Gwynedd and Flintshire are the first Welsh Local Authorities looking at implementing a 50% council tax premium on empty and second homes for 2017/18. Councils must make the declaration by 1st April 2016 to begin charging in 2017/18.
In a major departure from accepted practice, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead has released details of empty properties following a Freedom of Information request. The main local newspaper, the Royal Borough Observer, reported a significant backlash against the council's move in a recent story.
Speaking at the Goverment Property Conference this morning, Matt Hancock, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, announced that provisions were to be included in the Housing and Planning Bill that would required all local authorities to publish lists of their "surplus assets". This is to include all council homes empty for over 6 months and other buildings empty over 2 years.
What has Pay to Stay got to do with empty properties I hear you ask? Well from a southern perspective possibly very little, but the further you go north the more there is a relationship between the two.
A study of community-led housing by the Smith Institute, a left-leaning think-tank, has called for the government to re-instate the Empty Homes Community Grant Programme.
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Cherwell and South Northamptonshire Councils are advertising for a jointly-funded Empty Property Officer who will work 2.5 days in each local authority area. The authorities already share a Chief Executive. However, this is not yet a shared empty homes service, with the post-holder reporting separately to different managers in each authority.
The Housing and Planning Bill, currently before Parliament, has some 31 clauses dealing with compulsory purchase orders. This article is a brief summary of the changes proposed by the Bill insofar as they are relevant to empty homes CPOs.
Stoke-on-Trent Cabinet has approved a proposal for an investigation into the feasibility of a second wave of "£1 homes".
The Report to Cabinet throws some interesting light on the success of the scheme to date, the financial models involved, and the continuing issues that need to be dealt with. The investigation would be carried out by the Private Sector Housing Team, currently managed by award-winning ex-empty-homes-officer Zainul Pirmohamed.
The government's consultation on New Homes Bonus contains both good and bad news for empty homes practitioners. The good news is no news: there is no proposal to remove the reward for reducing the number of long term empty homes. The bad news is just about everything else in the consultation document, the main effect of which will be to reduce the level of reward and thus potentially reduce the commitment to empty homes initiatives.
The report prepared by Lancashire County Council's Internal Audit Team into the Rossendale/PLACE Empty Homes Project reveals an extraordinary number of flaws in basic processes of management and procurement associated with the HCA-funded scheme.
The Assemble collective has won the internationally famous Turner Prize for its work with residents of Granby 4 Streets in Toxteth in Liverpool. The award was presented live on television in a Channel 4 show.
Following a letter we sent to Rt Hon. Greg Clark, MP, Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities, the Empty Homes Network has now received a response from Brandon Lewis, MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning.
New research from David Mullins and Halima Sacranie at the School of Social Policy, Birmingham University, spells out in detail the achievements of community housing organisations funded through the government's Community Grants Programme for empty homes.
Sheffield Hallam University has now produced its final evaluation of the Welsh Houses to Homes initiative, highlighting its successes and offering recommendations to build on the experience to date.