Carmarthenshire Council brings empty properties back into use

More than 500 empty properties have been brought back into use in Carmarthenshire over the last five years – 135 of them in the last year alone.
The figures have been revealed as part of a special report compiled by a task and finish group, made up of six members of the county council’s Community Scrutiny Committee.
The group, chaired by Cllr Deryk Cundy, looked in-depth at the scale of the issue, what the council’s housing department is doing currently to address it, and at ideas for tackling the problem in the future.
Carmarthenshire County Council has been at the forefront of bringing empty homes back into use in recent years, becoming one of the first local authorities in Wales to employ a dedicated empty homes officer.
It was also the first to use Empty Dwelling Management Orders to force action on problem properties.
More recently, with the launch of the Welsh Government’s Houses into Homes scheme in 2012, it has helped owners to renovate empty properties and bring them back into use, many via the council’s Social Lettings Agency.
Last year alone, over £3,500,000 was drawn into the county through recyclable loans and private sector leverage, supporting the local economy by creating or sustaining around 180 construction jobs in the process.
A quarter of the empty properties brought back into use last year are also now affordable homes.
Cllr Cundy said: “Empty properties greatly concern the public as a whole and can be a serious blight on local areas and amenities.
“It is pleasing to note that this council has placed strategic importance on bringing empty properties back into use since 2005. A key success has been in providing assistance and guidance to owners.
“Our performance has improved over the years, particularly recently with 511 properties brought back into use over the last five years, including 135 properties during the last year.
“However the scale of the problem is steadily getting worse. The number of empty properties increased by eight per cent over the course of this last year and was 2,671 at the start of April – 20 per cent of them have been empty for more than five years.
“The areas with the largest numbers of empty properties are also the areas with the highest housing need. We heard from the public that they see bringing empty properties back into use as key way of providing more affordable housing. The majority of local members who responded to our consultation shared this view.
“Whilst our performance as a Council is excellent, we looked at best practice and have made a number of recommendations about where we think the way we work can be improved. We also have made some recommendations about investigating any alternative sources of funding to support this important area going forward.”
Cllr Linda Evans, Executive Board Member for Housing, said: “I’m very grateful to the task and finish group who have worked extremely hard on this worthwhile review. We are doing well in tackling empty homes at present, but we need to be prepared for the challenges that lay ahead, and this piece of work will help inform our future priorities.”
Read the full Task and Finish group report on empty homes
Do you own a property that’s currently empty and need support to bring it back into use? Do you live near a property that’s been abandoned and has become a blight on your community? Find out how the council supports home owners and deals with empty properties on our website.


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