Council to seize empty buildings

By Ian Dipple 14/02 Updated: 17/02 13:44

LONG-TERM empty homes and run-down buildings blighting communities could in future be bought by the council to bring them back into use.

Redditch Borough Council is developing a policy which would use its powers to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order on a run-down privately owned property, causing problems for residents, and then auction it back to the public on the open market.

Coun Brandon Clayton, responsible for housing and local environment on the council, said: "We are exploring giving the community a solution to the worst cases. Despite the council’s best efforts, sometimes private properties remain empty and start to attract anti-social behaviour and vandalism and it would be in these cases, and as a last resort, that we could pursue a CPO. It’s such a waste as they could be much needed homes for residents.

"A number of properties have brought this issue to our attention, although with more work to be done in those cases the details must remain confidential for now."

A CPO would only be issued as a last resort and in certain circumstances. Three of five conditions would have to be met including the home being empty for more than five years, if the property was causing a detrimental environmental effect, had been subject to enforcement actions by other council teams, was affecting the stability of adjoining properties, or if its condition could result in legal action being taken against the council.

Action would be prioritised on squatted homes, properties causing a nuisance to neighbours and homes identified by the police as causing particular problems in terms of crime.

The council would work with the property owner initially in order to return the home to use in the first instance and a CPO would only become an option when agreement could not be reached within a reasonable timescale and all other options have been exhausted or ruled out.

Every CPO would need to be approved by the Secretary of State which would trigger a formal consultation with the property owner and give an opportunity for a public enquiry in case of a dispute.

The policy is set to be approved at a meeting in March

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