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Agenda Item No.

 

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET: 18TH MARCH, 2013

 

REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (HOUSING AND PUBLIC PROTECTION): 13TH FEBRUARY, 2013

 

 

“863    UPDATE ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE EMPTY PROPERTY STRATEGY (DDS) –

 

The above Strategy included the action plan detailing how the Strategy would be implemented to address empty properties in the Vale of Glamorgan.  The action plan (as attached at Appendix 1) included details of progress against each action to the end of the quarter 3 2012/13.  Committee noted that following the adoption of the Strategy a temporary post was filled in November 2012 enabling the officer to work full time on implementing the Strategy.  All known properties had been inputted into a specific data base to enable better information management on these known empty properties.  In total 697 property records had been generated.  In addition to this exercise, an empty property questionnaire had also been sent out to owners of all known empty properties to establish why the properties were left empty and what assistance owners may want to help them return the properties back into use.  Completed questionnaires were still being received therefore analysis of the data had been delayed to quarter 4 to enable as much information as possible to be captured.

 

Risk assessments of known empty properties had also begun during December 2012 and to date 15% of the properties had been assessed and scored.  It was anticipated that this process would take a further 3-4 months to complete but would provide clear information on properties that the Council should target with advice and enforcement action where appropriate.

 

In addition to the above, considerable work had been undertaken on implementing the Welsh Government’s Houses into Homes Loan Scheme.  In November 2012, the Council entered into a Collaborative Agreement with Cardiff City Council to work jointly to promote the loan scheme.  To mid January 2013,  52 enquires had been received from owners interested in the loan scheme and applications had been sent to all.  From this contact, it was anticipated that at least 6 owners would complete and return application packs that would enable the Council to draw down Welsh Government funding and process the loan approvals.  However, since the report had been prepared five completed applications had been received.

 

Discussion ensued regarding the undertaking of risk assessments of empty properties, the resources available to undertake the same, legal powers available to the Council to bring about improvements to empty properties which were impacting adversely on the local community, prioritising risk assessments in known areas where there was a shortage of suitable rented accommodation and affected properties that were of architectural / historic interest.  Brief discussion also touched upon some of the possible reasons why properties were left empty and why some became dilapidated.

 

The closing date to draw down Welsh Government funding for the Scheme was the end of March 2013.  Accordingly, to make the most of this opportunity, resources had been concentrated on progressing the Scheme in addition to building the basic knowledge database.  As a result, some of the actions within the action plan had been delayed and the finish date amended.

 

On a separate but related matter, the Committee also noted that officers had also submitted a bid for Community Innovation Grant funding linked to targeting empty properties in the Castleland Renewal Area.  However, this bid had not been successful. 

 

Having regard to the above and related issues, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the progress made on implementing the Empty Homes Strategy over the previous six months be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T appropriate information relating to the database of all known empty properties be subject of a further report by the Head of Public Protection to the Scrutiny Committee as soon as practicable.

 

(3)       T H A T the report be referred to Cabinet for consideration.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In acknowledgement of progress made to date in delivering the Strategy.

 

(2)       To allow the Scrutiny Committee to review available information regarding the number and location of empty properties within the Vale of Glamorgan by post code.

 

(3)       To allow Cabinet to consider the issues arising.”

 

 

 

Attached as Appendix - Report to Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection): 13th February 2013