Agenda Item No. 5
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection): 2nd April 2014
Report of the Director of Development Services
Update on the Implementation of the Empty Homes Strategy 2012 - 2013
Purpose of the Report
1. To appraise Members on the progress being made on implementing the Empty Homes Strategy since its approval in April 2012.
1. That the report is noted on the progress being made to implement the Empty Homes Strategy Action Plan in Appendix 1.
Reason for the Recommendation
1. To monitor progress made in relation to the Empty Homes Strategy.
2. The Empty Homes Strategy 2012 - 2017 was approved by Cabinet on 18th April 2012 (Min No. C1696).
3. The aim of the Empty Homes Strategy is to monitor empty homes; provide advice, assistance and guidance to empty property owners; to reduce the negative effect of empty homes on our communities; to reduce the number of empty homes; return empty homes back to use and to promote the empty homes initiative.
4. Through the Strategy, the Council will target problematic empty homes that are inactive in the housing market, that are unlikely to return to use without intervention from the Council and those that are likely to be the subject of valid complaints from the public, partners and Councillors.
5. The Strategy states this will be achieved through a co-ordinated, proactive approach with relevant Council departments and stakeholders working in partnership to utilise a range of services to assist property owners bring empty properties back into use. The Strategy includes an action plan detailing how the Strategy will be implemented to address empty homes within the Vale of Glamorgan.
Relevant Issues and Options
6. This update builds on the Council's performance against the Empty Homes Strategy Action Plan.
7. The Empty Homes Action Plan is attached in Appendix 1. The Action Plan details progress against each action from quarter 4 of 2012 - 2013 to the end of quarter 2 of 2013 - 2014.
8. The empty property database is being continually updated as new information becomes available. Long term empty properties details as of 1st September 2013, provided by Council Tax, have been incorporated into the database. All properties identified as occupied have been closed on the database. Procedures to ensure the ongoing development and maintenance of the database are in place and being implemented.
9. All long term empty properties as of 1st September 2013 are in the process of being risk assessed, with 77% of newly identified properties completed. It is anticipated that the remaining assessments will be completed by the end of February 2014.
10. Between April and December 2013 a total of 54 empty properties have been returned to use.
11. The inter-departmental empty homes working group have decided to increase the number of empty homes being targeting for on-going action / enforcement action. In view of this the top 20 were prioritised for action.
12. Of the 20 properties prioritised, 2 are now occupied; 2 have been sold and the new owners are engaging; 1 will shortly be renovated and leased by United Welsh; 1 will be subject to a Compulsory Purchase Order; 4 are under renovation; 7 are receiving on-going persuasion; 3 are awaiting enforcement action.
13. An empty property identified on Holton Road will be subject to a CPO. The Empty Homes Officer and the Legal Department are making enquiries and will shortly prepare the necessary paperwork to proceed with the Order. This will be the first CPO resulting from this initiative.
14. An agreement is in place between United Welsh and an empty property owner to renovate and lease one of the long term empty properties following persuasion and enforcement action by the Empty Homes Officer.
15. All new surveys received following the mail drop between May and July 2013 have been input into SNAP, a computer programme to enable analysis to take place. The analysis will take place over the next 1-2 months.
16. During July 2013, Welsh Government confirmed additional funding for the Houses into Homes scheme which enables the Cardiff and Vale region to draw down and addition of £1.4 million toward these loans. Work to promote and support the scheme is ongoing to ensure this region and residents benefits from the funding.
17. The Houses into Homes loan scheme has recently been advertised in the local newspapers to generate interest in this opportunity. A regional press release was also completed in November 2013 to further promote the scheme.
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
18. Funding for the Empty Property Officer on a full time basis is in place, until March 2015. Subject to the success of the project this cost has been built into the Medium Term Financial Plan form April 2015.
19. Capital funding has been drawn down from Welsh Government's Houses into Homes loan scheme during 2012-13 to support the application in the system. Additional capital funding for the implementation of the Houses into Homes loan scheme has been made available from Welsh Government which can be drawn down as need is established. If further interest in the loan scheme is not generated within the Vale, this Council will not be able to draw down this funding.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
20. Increasing the supply of homes from within existing stock will assist in addressing housing need and will also reduce the need for building new stock.
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
21. There are no implications as a result of this report.
Crime and Disorder Implications
22. There are only positive crime and disorder implications arising from this report, including tackling antisocial behaviour that is often associated with empty properties.
Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)
23. There are no implications as a result of this report. A full Equality Impact Assessment has been completed on the Strategy when it was recommended for adoption.
24. Community Strategy 2011 - 21
Priority Outcome 7: The underlying causes of deprivation are tackled and the regeneration of the Vale continues, opportunities for individuals and businesses are developed and the quality of the built and natural environmental is protected and enhanced.
Priority Outcome 8: The Vale maximises the potential of its position within the region working with its neighbours for the benefit of local people and businesses, attracting visitors, residents and investment.
Policy Framework and Budget
25. This report is for noting only.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
26. This report is not ward specific.
Relevant Scrutiny Committee
27. Housing and Public Protection.
The Empty Homes Strategy 2012 - 2017
Georgina Wayman, Environmental Health Officer - 01446 709838
Legal Service - Mike Walsh
Finance Services - Rob Ingram
Housing Strategy - Pam Toms
Rob Thomas - Director of Development Services