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Councils to be required to report empty homes

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.

Jointly-funded EPO to tackle empties in Cherwell and S. Northamptonshire

[S p o n s o r e d s t o r yl]

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.

More £1 homes on the cards in Stoke

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.

NHB - good news and bad news

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.

Best Local Authority / Community Housing Organisation Partnership Award 2015

This was the second year that this Partnership award has been presented at our Empty Homes Awards 2015 ceremony, (ceremony sponsored by Grafton UK Ltd). The Award was jointly sponsored by Habitat for Humanity and the Empty Homes Network itself, reflecting the commitment of both organisations to fostering partnership working between local authorities and community organisations.

Nationwide announces new Empty Homes Grant programme

The Nationwide Foundation has launched a new, £1million empty properties funding programme to bring long-term empty properties back into use for people in housing need. This follows on from a previous, similar programme.

Applicants must be not-for-profit, non-statutory organisations and may seek funding in the form of grant or social investment or both. Bids may range between £100,000 and £175,000. Encouragement is given to projects that:

Empty Homes Agency launches campaign with new report

The Empty Homes Agency has produced a report about the numbers of empty homes in England, making recommendations for some key measures to bring the numbers down. The Agency has for many years been the custodian of figures about empty homes in England: but this beautifully-written report by Helen Williams is the first attempt for a more user-friendly approach to the statistics, featuring useful maps and clearly-written explanations of both methodology and interpretation.

East Lancs. empty homes provider goes bust

According to a report in the Lancashire Telegraph, and confirmed by a statement on the Rossendale Borough Council website, a key provider in £5.6million empty homes programme has gone into administration. The company, AAAW Ltd., is reported to have debts of over £275,000.

It is understood that most if not all of the reported £5.6 million was funding from the Homes and Communities Agency under the empty homes programme. In addition, AAAW seems to have been involved in a wide range of leasing and letting services connected with homelessness.

Islington tackles buy-to-leave through planning policy

As of 17th July 2015, the London Borough of Islington has introduced an innovative new planning policy aimed at tackling the so-called "buy-to-leave" phenomenon. Islington's approach relies on a Supplementary Planning Document entitled "Preventing Wasted Housing Supply". This will require developers to sign a "Section 106" agreement [S106][1] aimed at ensuring that homes are occupied after they are completed: effectively the agreement cascades down to individual owners as the S106 obligations run with the land as a land charge.

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