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Hundreds of homes lay empty in Colchester, housing charity reveals

Housing in Colchester.

Housing in Colchester.

COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCIL

Colchester has seen a rise in the number of homes that have lain empty for six months or more, figures reveal.

Housing charity Action on Empty Homes said that in September there were a total of 650 long-term empty homes in the area, up on 555 last year - a rise of 17%

Statistics from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show in total 1,521 properties were found to be ‘unoccupied or substantially unfurnished’ in the town, meaning two out of five vacant properties in Colchester have been sitting empty for six months or more.

The charity is putting pressure on the councils to do more to bring homes back into use.

Action on Empty Homes campaign manager Chris Bailey said: “Empty homes are a canary in the coalmine telling us the stark reality of out broken housing market.

“The time to fix that is now.

“Across England more than a million families are on social housing waiting lists, and tens of thousands are in often unsuitable temporary accommodation.

“Every empty home is a wasted opportunity to make a family’s life better, and at a time of a national housing crisis this is more critical than ever.”

A Colchester Borough Council spokesman said its figures showed 65 empty homes in the town belong to the council.

He said: “With regard to the 65 Council properties, this figure includes any properties that are ‘void’, i.e. between becoming empty and being re-let, or properties where tenants have been moved temporarily to another property due to major works being required to their current home following an event such as a fire or subsidence, or where the property is being redeveloped or refurbished.

“We offer an Empty Property Loan within our current Financial Assistance Policy to enable property-owners to bring long-term vacant properties back into use. This covers up to £30,000 of essential works to make the property habitable. We then retain nomination rights from the Housing Register.

“Through our interventions, in 2016-17 we brought one long-term vacant properties back into use, three in 2017-18 and, to date, for 2018-19 we have brought two long term vacant properties back in to use.”

He added increasing the supply of good homes in Colchester is one of the council’s 20 strategic priorities.


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