Thousands of homes in need of repair

NEARLY £35million of urgent repairs are needed to prevent thousands of homes in a Suffolk borough from deteriorating into dereliction, new figures have revealed.

NEARLY £35million of urgent repairs are needed to prevent thousands of homes in a Suffolk borough from deteriorating into dereliction, new figures have revealed.

But St Edmundsbury Borough Council now plans to publicise the grants available to private householders more widely to encourage more people to bring their buildings up to scratch.

A report presented to members on Wednesday showed that more than 4,000 homes within the borough, which stretches from Bury St Edmunds to Haverhill, were either unfit for habitation or rapidly spiralling into disrepair.

During a meeting, the council's overview and scrutiny committee voted to change the existing grants system, while Frank Warby, portfolio holder for housing, health and crime, urged more homeowners to apply for money.


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"I think the problem is that residents do not know there are grants available," said Mr Warby. "Hopefully, this should bring to people's minds the fact that they can approach the council for repair grants and money – even if they are private home owners.

"We need to get the message out to people to come forward and see what we can offer."

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During a 2002 study of homes in the private sector, it was estimated that 1,501 properties in the borough were unfit for habitation. Repairing them to a suitable standard would carry a price tag of £10.5million.

The same survey also revealed 2,682 houses were classed as "defective," and would therefore fall into disrepair rapidly unless just over £24million was spent.

As a result of the report, the council established a grant aid scheme, to assist private homeowners to repair their properties and bring them back into use. However, only two handouts have so far been approved for "defective" homes, and none for unfit properties.

Mr Warby said he suspected this was due to the fact that few people were aware of the grants system in place.

"People should look and see what is available, and if they are not sure, they should pick up the phone, call the council and ask," he added.

The matter will be discussed by the council's cabinet in October before the changes come into force.

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