Empty homes bid secures £500k

West Lindsey District Council will receive �595,000 from the Government to bring empty homes into use G120529-4
West Lindsey District Council will receive �595,000 from the Government to bring empty homes into use G120529-4

A SCHEME to bring 100 of the district’s empty homes back into use has had a welcome boost of nearly £600,000.

West Lindsey is one of just 20 areas in the country to have been allocated Government funding to tackle the problem of empty properties and high housing need.

More than 1,000 homes stand empty across the district, many in Gainsborough.

A survey in January showed the south west ward was one of the worst areas with 225 empty properties, and it is likely this area will feature in improvement plans.

The Homes and Communities Agency said projects should focus on refurbishing properties to a livable standard and improving areas of public realm.

Details of exactly how the council will be spend the £595,000 are yet to be revealed.

But a search has already been launched to find partner businesses and organisations to work with.

“We fully understand the detrimental effect that empty homes can have on communities and this project demonstrates our commitment to dealing with them,” said Grant Lockett, head of strategic growth at WLDC.

“There are a large amount of empty homes located across the district and as a council we are committed to working with communities, landlords and other stake holders to bring them back into use.”

“We are delighted that our ideas for addressing empty homes have been recognised by the Government and we will be working on confirming the specific details in regards to our successful application in due course.”

Communities Minister Andrew Stunell announced that West Lindsey was one of 20 successful councils to receive a slice of £60 million from the Clusters of Empty Homes Fund.

It followed a bidding process in which authorities had to show value-for-money proposals, match funding and strong backing from the community.

In March WLDC leader Coun Burt Keimach announced the council had set aside £1.1 million to tackle empty homes and affordable properties.

“We believe this activity will have a major and long lasting social impact across the district, and particularly in Gainsborough which is projected to double in population over the coming decade,” he said at the time.

Speaking in his column in the Standard today, Coun Keimach said: “In total there are 720,000 empty homes across the UK, so we are pleased to be deemed capable of helping to solve the dilemma.”

He said the news had come at a good time for West Lindsey, as new measures to tackle anti-social behaviour and revitalise town centres were also being piloted.

The Communities Minister has also referred to the knock-on effect of bringing empty homes back into use.

He said: “Empty homes can often attract anti-social behaviour and associated crimes such as vandalism and fly-tipping.”

“By returning these homes into use and providing families with much needed homes, new life will be breathed into these areas as well as providing local training and employment to do so.”

Earlier this month WLDC held an information event at the Guildhall, in Marshall’s Yard, aimed at getting innovative groups on board with its Empty Homes Project.

More than 30 organisations attended to discuss how they could contribute towards tackling the problem.

Grant Lockett said: “We are confident that it has stimulated some real interest from other organisations who are keen to work with us and tackle this issue.”

Interested parties now have until 4pm on Friday 8th June to submit a proposal of how they would address the issue.

To find out more about the project or to raise concerns about an empty property please visit www.west-lindsey.gov.uk/emptyproperties or contact the WLDC housing and communities team at on 01427 676676.

Mr Lockett concluded: “We hope that this funding can help to support a wider corporate project to bring empty homes back into use and improve the communities in which they are located.”

“We must stress that at this stage the funding award has only been agreed in principle and there is still a lot of work for us to do to ensure that the scheme can be successful.”