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Council work with local charity to tackle housing need

 

Bristol City Council has been working closely with charity Bristol Together to help tackle housing need in the city as well as provide work opportunities for ex-offenders.

As we come to the end of Empty Homes Week (1st-5th December) the council are keen to encourage owners of empty homes to bring their properties back into use.
In extreme cases a compulsory purchase order (CPO) can be sought by the local authority, and the housing team is currently in the process of selling a house in St Paul’s that they acquired in this way.

The house has stood empty for over 25 years, and no work has been done in that time to maintain the property, meaning that it is now in very poor repair.  The house was squatted for some months and suffered some additional internal damage as a result of this.

The council have been dealing with the owner for some years, initially offering information and advice on renovating and letting the property as well as assistance in the form of loans. 

Eventually, after receiving no positive response from the owner, the council felt it had no option but to move to compulsory purchase.

The council is now selling the property on to the local social enterprise partnership Bristol Together who will renovate and put the newly refurbished house on the market.

Councillor Brenda Massey, Assistant Mayor with responsibility for people said: “Demand for housing in Bristol is extremely high and we cannot afford to let homes lie empty while there is so much housing need.

“The Council has been working hard for many years to bring empty properties back into use – by supporting owners to refurbish and sell or rent these homes and taking firm compulsory purchase action where properties have remained empty for many years and owners have failed to respond to the Council’s offers of help.

“This property had been empty for over 25 years and after no helpful response from the owner we had no option but to take compulsorily purchase action in September.  It is now really great news that the property is to be refurbished over the next few months by our partner organisation Bristol Together.”

Bristol Together provide training for young ex-offenders in construction skills and the degree of dilapidation at this property will give valuable experience to young people across the full range of construction trades.

Over the past few years the Council has worked successfully with Bristol Together, selling them a number of poor condition properties for renovation and resale in this way.

Bristol Together helps their employees develop important skills and experience and earn a living wage, and as a consequence they have seen a dramatic fall in reoffending rates.

Paul Harrod, founder of Bristol Together, said: "We are very pleased to be able to work in partnership with Bristol City Council to bring this empty property back into use. We will restore it back into a family home, and create additional jobs for ex-offenders as a result."

Bristol City Council is a member of the No Use Empty (West) partnership which is affiliated with Kent County Council’s No Use Empty initiative.

While the approach of the partnership is to work with owners of empty homes in order to bring private empty houses back into use, where an owner refuses to engage, enforcement action will be considered up to and including compulsory purchase.

Details of help offered through the No Use Empty scheme are available at the No Use Empty (West) website at www.no-use-emptywest.co.uk.

If you have a property that is currently sitting empty and would like some advice, please contact the Empty Property Unit on 0117 352 5010 or e-mail private.housing@bristol.gov.uk.

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404 empty properties were brought back into use in 2010/11 in Bristol.
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