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Cornwall's empty homes being brought back into use

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1:09pm 16th October 2017

More than two-million pounds has been spent on helping bring empty homes in Cornwall back into use.

A Cornwall Council scheme has loaned the money to property owners to bring over 100 properties back into use over the past four years.

Cornwall Council cabinet member for homes Andrew Mitchell says: "One of our Cabinet priorities is to help tackle the housing shortage by bringing empty properties back into use.

"This National Empty Homes Week, we want those people who may own an empty property to know about the help that is on offer from the Council so that we can assist them and ultimately provide a home."

Cornwall Council's empty homes team works with owners of long term empty properties to offer a range of advice and assistance, including a loan scheme, and has been focusing on properties which, for a variety of reasons, have been empty for a sometime.

Mike purchased two neighbouring empty properties in Penzance which had been empty for over two years with the plan to create a total of three residential properties.

He completed the work with the help of the Council's Empty Property Loan scheme.

Mike said: "I contacted the Council's Empty Homes Team looking for lending support with my small development project.

"I had purchased an empty flat and a neighbouring neglected grade 2 listed building and used the empty homes loan to part fund the project.

"The Empty Homes Loan is a superb and innovative idea targeting funds where they are most needed to help owners regenerate dilapidated housing stock."

The owner of the former Francis Antony print factory near to St Austell town centre secured planning permission to convert the property into seven self-contained flats.

The owner said: "When seeking finance to convert our former print factory into apartments Cornwall Council's empty homes loan scheme provided us with the lowest rate of interest and set of charges. The empty homes team were very helpful and approachable in a down to earth and transparent way and assisted us throughout the process."

But even with all the help that is on offer to owners of empty properties, there are still some cases where the Council has to be prepared to tackle the issue of long term empty properties with legal action.

An empty property in Looe which had been abandoned for many years and become an eyesore in the local community has now been sold at auction after action by Cornwall Council.

Officers from the Council's Empty Homes, Council Tax, Property and Legal teams had made many efforts to trace the whereabouts of owner but without success so have now been granted an order by the court to recover substantial unpaid council tax and in the same process change the ownership of the property.

Councillor Andrew Mitchell, Cornwall Council's Portfolio Holder for Homes said: "This is a good result for both the people of Looe and Cornwall. There is a shortage of housing in Cornwall and this demonstrates that the Council will when all other avenues have been exhausted, take the necessary action to tackle the issue and bring empty properties back into use. I hope this sends a clear message to all empty property owners that unless there is a good reason to leave a property unoccupied the Council will take action.

"I encourage empty property owners to contact us so that we can assist wherever possible. There can be many obstacles to overcome in bringing empty properties back into use, particularly when they are in serious disrepair, but we can often provide a tailored package of assistance and advice."

1:09pm 16th October 2017

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