Harrogate Council steps up action over empty homes

An example of derelict housing.
An example of derelict housing.

People living in the Harrogate district are being encouraged to report empty houses and flats to Harrogate Borough Council.

The request comes as the council takes the first steps in placing a compulsory purchase order on two houses in Knaresborough.

The two properties are a pair of semi-detached brick built houses that have been empty for over five years and have deteriorated during that time.

They are now in a partial state of repair with neglected and overgrown gardens.

The properties first came to the council’s attention in 2011, following complaints about their condition.

Since then, it has made repeated attempts to work with the owners to see them improved and brought back into use, including making a formal offer to buy them in 2015.

However, apart from minimal works carried out over three months in 2012, nothing has been forthcoming.

With no resolution in sight and concern growing over the impact of the empty properties on neighbouring residents and the local area, the council decided that the only way to ensure the satisfactory refurbishment and return to use of both properties was to compulsorily purchase them.

Under the 1985 Housing Act, local authorities have the power to compulsorily acquire land in its area to provide housing, as long as there is housing need.

The council has now kick started this process with a view to bringing about the sale of the properties.

A covenant will make sure they are repaired, refurbished and occupied within a period of 12 months.

Coun Mike Chambers, Harrogate Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “Compulsory purchase is very much a last resort. We would prefer to acquire properties through voluntary agreement, wherever possible.

“However, in this case we have made every effort to secure the return to use of these properties without success, and a compulsory purchase order is now the only realistic option.

“Abandoned properties can attract fly tipped waste, anti-social behaviour and have a detrimental effect on those living close by.

“At the same time, we all know how difficult it is for young people to get their first home these days.

"This compulsory purchase order means that these two houses will at long last be refurbished and sold, once again providing homes and enhancing the area.

“If anyone is aware of a house that has been standing empty for some time, I would urge them to get in touch with the council so that we can look at what can be done to help turn it into a much-needed home.”