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Thousands of homes in north Essex sit empty despite UK shortage

PUBLISHED: 15:01 17 June 2018 | UPDATED: 13:20 18 June 2018

When the most recent count of empty homes was taken, there were 1,748 vacant homes in Colchester, according to Government figures Picture: CBCK-CHRISTINE/GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

When the most recent count of empty homes was taken, there were 1,748 vacant homes in Colchester, according to Government figures Picture: CBCK-CHRISTINE/GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

CBCK-Christine

Thousands of homes in north Essex sit empty despite a national shortage, new figures reveal.

Paul Honeywood, Tendring District Council's cabinet member for housing Picture: PAUL HONEYWOODPaul Honeywood, Tendring District Council's cabinet member for housing Picture: PAUL HONEYWOOD

Data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government reveal that in October last year – when the most recent count was taken – there were 1,748 vacant homes in Colchester.

Of those, 554 were classed as long-term vacancies, meaning they had been unoccupied for at least six months.

In Tendring there were 2,020 empty homes, with 498 classed as long-term.

However, in both areas there has been a significant improvement since the number of empty properties peaked in 2008.

In Colchester the figure had reached 2,261 while in Tendring the figure was 2,972.

Polly Neate, chief executive of charity Shelter, said that making sure homes are occupied is part of the answer to solving the country’s housing shortage.

A spokesman for Colchester Borough Council said of all the empty homes in the area, just 67 were owned by the council.

He said the figure also included ‘void’ homes, properties that are between becoming empty and being re-let, or homes where tenants have been moved temporarily due to repair or development work.

He said: “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.

“One of the 20 strategic priorities included in the council’s recently-adopted Strategic Plan, looks to ‘increase the supply of good quality homes by using legal powers to reduce the number of empty homes’,” he added.

The town recently secured £192,683 in Government funding to cut the number of rough sleepers.

Paul Honeywood, Tendring’s cabinet member for housing, said the council was working hard to bring empty homes back into use through its Empty Homes Strategy.

He said: “There can be many reasons why a home is long-term empty, it could be simply because it is for sale or being renovated or it could be that the owner is facing personal issues, but our figures show that less than 200 of the empty houses in Tendring have been vacant for more than two years.

“It is pleasing to see the number of empty homes has fallen over the past decade, but we know more work needs to be done.”

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EADT writer David Vincent has more than 40 years experience in Suffolk. He has explored the highways and byeways of East Anglia, meeting homeowners, developers and estate agents from Bury St Edmunds to Aldeburgh and Colchester to Diss.

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