7:00pm Saturday 22nd February 2014
By Michael Morrison
ALMOST £50 million has been spent on transforming Accrington over the last eight years, new figures have revealed.
And despite heavy cuts handed down by central government, the council has announced plans to invest another £2 million to support the Woodnook regeneration project and to build another 100 new homes in West Accrington.
The council’s general fund capital programme report said: “The housing market is beginning to show signs of recovery as the number of empty homes has reduced significantly and new house building starts to accelerate.
“We will continue to invest in West Accrington to support the on-going development of a much wider diversity of housing where a new planning consent is in place for a further 103 new high quality homes to be built by Keepmoat.
“This year we will also continue to support the regeneration of Woodnook and will invest over £2 million to support the £10 million plus private investment facilitated by our partner PlaceFirst to bring at least 150 empty homes back into use to a very high standard, providing a much enhanced housing offer and environment.”
Demolition orders will be used to buy homes in Pendle Street that ‘are in danger of collapse’, the report added.
Deputy council leader and chair of the regeneration and housing panel, Coun Clare Pritchard, said the council is proud of its work in renovating empty homes in the borough and bringing them back into use.
The number of long-term empty houses Hyndburn is at an eight-year low, figures released under the Freedom of Information Act revealed.
In 2006, 2,309 homes were empty, compared to 2,189 last year - which accounts for almost six per cent of the borough’s total housing stock.
Just five of the borough’s 17 wards showed an increase in the number of empty homes between May 2012 and July 2013.
Coun Pritchard said: “We have been really proactive about empty homes. It’s a mixture of carrot and stick.
“We penalise people for having empty properties by charging 150 per cent council tax, because quite a lot attract vandalism and anti-social behaviour. That seems to have worked.
“We are really proud of our record. We don’t build as many new homes as other boroughs, but we are doing well with empty homes.”
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