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Council helps a small community group make a big difference to their neighbourhood

A modern terraced house on a housing estate was brought to the attention of various teams at Bath & North East Somerset council, by neighbours via their local councillor. They had suffered for years with a deteriorating empty property on their doorstep.

An inspection was carried out on the house, confirming that the property was empty, with very overgrown front and rear gardens. At the front the vegetation extended over the front windows, and the front and rear windows had fallen into an extremely poor condition with broken glazing panels.

Searches were carried out and the owner was found and contacted. The owner, who visited the property 3 or 4 times a year, suggested that he intended to sell the property. Although he had not informed the Council Tax team that the property was empty it transpired that it had been empty for approximately 10 years.

Taking into account how long it had been empty, its poor condition and impact on the surrounding neighbourhood, Bath & North-East Somerset prioritised action to get repairs carried out and the home brought back into use. The council began with an informal approach to the owner but with no response was compelled to resort to enforcement action.

Working with the Environmental Protection Team, a notice under the Town and Country Planning Act, S215, was served requiring the owner to clear the front and rear gardens, reseed the grass and replace damaged windows and doors.

Following this action the owner made contact to say he is now selling and the new owner will be carrying out the work and bringing the property back into use.

Empty properties come to the attention of councils in various ways, and teams across the council work together to identify problems. When an empty property starts to significantly deteriorate it can cause damage to neighbouring properties, become a neighbourhood eyesore and attract vandalism and crime.

This property in Bath featured in our Empty Property Week initiative in 2011. It had been empty and neglected for a number of years causing concern to local residents. The council provided a small grant to fund a local community enterprise group to carry out work to bring the property into a marketable condition. As a result of this intervention and assistance the house was sold and purchased by a local family, who have been working hard to renovate and extend it. Although renovation work is continuing the family were able to move into their home during the summer.

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In South Gloucestershire 181 empty properties were returned to use in 2012/13!
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