Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by Peterborough City Council (EMP 61)


  I refer to the above inquiry and the invitation to contribute views on the subject.

  The Council's Empty Homes Strategy came into being in 1996, and has been used to bring approximately 300 properties back into use. This has been achieved using a variety of tools including short-life grants to housing associations in return for nomination rights, negotiations with owners to sell, rent or inhabit properties and use of compulsory purchase powers.

  However, the Council feels that the work to bring empty homes back into use could be facilitated in a number of ways. These are detailed below:

    —  Ability to charge full Council Tax on properties vacant for more than six months.

    —  For properties vacant for three years or more, no VAT charged on refurbishment leading to occupancy.

    —  Introduce fast track CPO procedures where properties have been vacant for eg five years or more, whether the owner is identified or not; and/or streamline exiting CPO procedures to enable greater use to be made of the powers.

    —  Encourage the use of Enforced Sale Procedures by reducing the uncertainty for Local Authorities eg by introducing a cut-off point beyond which owners cannot pay debts for Work in Default, thus stopping any sale.

    —  Create a legal framework to enable Government Departments, Local Authorities, NHS Trusts and RSLs to temporarily requisition the use of vacant properties for rent. This could be for a limited period eg five years at the end of which control would revert to the owner, or the property be sold.

    —  Levels of vacant properties in all areas to be a material consideration in the Housing Corporation's decision to award ADP/LASHG for new build.

  I hope these comments will be considered useful by the Select Committee.

S King

Senior Environmental Health Officer

25 September 2001

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