empty-2-homes-highgateWill these Highgate properties be restored after many years of neglect?

At the end of June, 24 Dash and other media outlets reported that Birmingham City Council were to vote on a proposal to purchase more empty houses and bring them back into community use.

An online search found all the forecasts, but only the Sheffield Forum confirmed that the vote had been carried, adding a link to the relevant section of the Birmingham Post, and a quotation from that paper:

  • There are more than 5,000 privately owned homes in Birmingham which have been empty for more than six months.
  • Of those, 1,900 have been empty for three years and many are being left to rot and blight neighbourhoods. Getting them up to scratch and leased would go a long way to solving housing shortages.
  • The city council talks to owners to get properties back into use, but those who refuse face compulsory purchase orders.
  • The cabinet today agreed to a £4.6 million fund to buy empty homes – which can be done up and sold to people who want to live in them

It was good to read that Bromley Council has already been doing this. The Financial Times reported news from Cllr Peter Griffiths, cabinet member for housing and homes, who said that in the last three years they have brought around 1,000 empty properties back into use.

They offer homeowners advice, guidance and support in bringing their empty properties back into use, but ultimately can and will compulsorily purchase empty properties where homeowners leave properties empty for a considerable time. This will help to provide much needed housing for our citizens and remove empty properties which have a detrimental effect on the surrounding neighbourhoods as they are a magnet for anti-social behaviour.

A second admirable step

Readers who missed the first may go to an earlier news item about family-owned Wates Living Space Maintenance, appointed in December to undertake repairs and maintenance services for Birmingham council tenants over the next four years alongside Keepmoat and Willmott Dixon.

wates vans

A specialist fleet of 193 vans has been commissioned, in all, carrying over 11,000 trade tools, to carry out over 90,000 repairs each year.  

From April onwards they will have repairs, maintenance, gas servicing, home improvements and training for a local workforce, provided by only one contractor, leading to an improved service and savings which will be ploughed back in to housing services.

Later, Housing 3: New-build co-operative housing schemes for Birmingham?