Empty properties to be brought back into use, says council

East Suffolk Council's cabinet member for housing, Richard Kerry

East Suffolk Council's cabinet member for housing, Richard Kerry - Credit: Paul Nixon/East Suffolk Council

Empty properties in east Suffolk are being brought back into use by the district council.

East Suffolk Council (ESC) is aiming to reduce unused properties as they are a wasted resource, often becoming a target or vandalism, arson, squatting, fly-tipping, and other criminal behaviour.

ESC reviews properties that have been empty for more than six months on an annual basis.

The review in October found a 23pc drop in properties empty for over two years and a 50pc decline in those empty for over six months.

Properties empty for over two years would provide quality housing to benefit the community.

A successful example of this is 87 The High Street, Lowestoft.

The property in the Heritage Action Zone was empty for over six years, but has since been bought by ESC and is being converted into a block of flats for council tenants.

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Councillor Richard Kerry, East Suffolk Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “Leaving properties empty long-term is not just a waste of a building, it can also have a hugely negative impact on neighbours and the community, attracting anti-social behaviour, vandalism and fly-tipping.

“It remains a priority to tackle the issue as it is one of the best ways the Council can meet the need for good quality housing in East Suffolk, however, it is not always straight-forward as properties can become unoccupied for a number of, sometimes complex, reasons.

"We are doing all we can to work with, and support, owners of long-term empty properties to help them return these to positive use, offering advice and assistance on bringing them back into use, including grants of up to £15,000.

"“If all other action fails, the Council would look to the use the range of powers available as a last result, including Compulsory Purchase Orders, to get a long-term empty property re-occupied.”

For more information on what help is available if you own a long-term empty property or to report a property which has stood empty for more than 6 months, go to www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/housing/empty-properties/