Aug 132013
 

Empty and neglected homes across the are being brought back into use as of Yorkshire Council steps up action against owners and landlords.

The council is one of the foremost councils across England in tackling this issue which faces all local authorities.

Currently there are 5,710 empty homes, which is 3.8 per cent of all East Riding dwellings. Of these, 1,250 are classed as being long term empty, meaning they have been empty for six months or more. This is a significant decrease compared with 2,000 long term empty properties in October 2011.

Councillor Symon Fraser, portfolio holder for environment, and planning, said: “Three years ago a plan of action was put in place to tackle the unacceptable number of properties left empty and causing a nuisance. These were properties that would make some family a good home.

“Bringing long term empty properties back into use can be a lengthy process, particularly if legal action is needed. But over the last couple of years we have been seeing a huge improvement as the number has been falling.

He said: “There are an endless number of reasons why properties should not be left empty and rotting: they attract crime such as vandalism, arson, fly tipping and vermin. Their deteriorating state can also damage adjoining properties.

“It also uses council taxpayers’ money to make these properties secure when the owner is not known.”

An example of the cost to the council is that of a house in Lansdowne Road, which was empty for 14 years. The total cost to the council over a 12 month period was £8,000. This does not reflect the reduced value of neighbouring properties or police costs for dealing with anti social behaviour or fire service costs in dealing with incidents.

Nigel Leighton, director of environment and neighbourhood services, said; “We start every process by trying to work in partnership with owners of empty properties. We have found that in many cases encouragement and persuasion to undertake repairs has worked very well.

“Initially, a letter is sent or a visit is made to the owner and this generally has the desired effect in that the property is brought into use.

“Where things become more difficult, for example when persuasion and negotiation fail and an owner doesn’t carry out remedial work then there are several paths we can take, but giving up isn’t one of them.”

Options include:

Voluntary acquisition is when the council and the owner of an empty property reach an agreement for the council to buy it at an agreed price. In the past three years the council has voluntary acquired six properties and put them back in use. (Brandesburton 1, Bridlington 1, Hessle 1, 2 and Willerby 1)

Empty dwelling management orders (EDMO) are an interim measure which allows the council to take possession of a property and to get it occupied. While this is an action open to councils, it is not one that this council has yet used.

Compulsory purchase orders are carried out only with approval from the Secretary of State responsible for communities and local . This is a lengthy process taking up to a year. The council has compulsory purchased four properties in the last three years ( 1, Bridlington 1, Hessle 1 and 1).

Mr Leighton said: “The reasons why properties are left empty and to deteriorate are as varied as the properties themselves. They include homes left empty after the death of the occupant or a property which has been willed to someone who is reluctant to accept it.

“There are also situations where the owner has allowed the house to become run down and can no longer afford to bring it back into order. Other properties are just abandoned or have been bought as an and just left empty.”

In 2012 the council published its Empty Homes Strategy, outlining its plans to reduce the number of empty properties. This includes imposing a premium 150 per cent of the council tax on a property which has been empty for two years and more.

The council has also been awarded over £400,000 of grant funding as part of the Government’s Empty Homes Programme to bring 30 empty properties back into use. The council has also set aside capital funding from its own budgets to pay to acquire properties, the money being recovered when the properties are sold.

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Following an extensive investigation into the flooding which took place in on 3 August 2011, of Yorkshire Council has made a number of recommendations to mitigate future rainfall events in the town.

As the lead local flood authority (LLFA), the council used powers under the Flood & Water Management Act 2010 to investigate the circumstances of the flooding, which included data gathering from numerous agencies, interviewing residents and relevant staff to establish a timeline, inspection of facilities in the area and analysis of the information received.

From the available data, the council concluded that in excess of 32mm and probably in excess of 64mm of rain fell between 4.30-5.30pm on 3 August. Even the lower estimate is in excess of the design standards applied to drainage systems and therefore it is likely that even if the drainage system was ‘as new’ and operated to full capacity, there would’ve been significant areas of flooding.

Nigel Leighton, director of environment and neighbourhood services at Council, said: “The rainfall that caused the August flooding was without doubt very exceptional.

“As a result of the resident survey, the council has become aware of areas where, even during significantly less intense storms, localised flooding occurs on a regular basis. While these in the normal course of events do not affect properties internally, they are an inconvenience to some residents and the council will investigate these and ensure appropriate remedial action is taken by the relevant body concerned.

“The town of Goole is situated on the edge of the Humberhead Level flood plain in an identified flood zone and is bordered by three major rivers, The Ouse to the east, The Aire to the north and The Don to the south.

“Given the complexity of the Goole sewer system, the degree of interaction between systems and the limited and unverified rainfall data available, it is not possible to definitively state a single cause of the flooding.

“The investigation has recommended a series of proposed actions for the consideration of a number of agencies and for approval by cabinet, including an overhaul of communication and incident response procedures, remedial and improvement works and further investigations with other flood risk management agencies in order to mitigate and reduce the affects of future incidents in the area.

“The council would like to thank members of the Goole community, Yorkshire Water Services Limited, The Environment Agency and the Goole and Airmyn Internal Drainage Board for their assistance in this investigation.”

Councillor Chris Matthews, cabinet portfolio holder for highways and emergency planning at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, who also represents the authority on the Yorkshire Regional Flood Defence Committee, said: “As a result of the changes in legislation, this is the first time the council has had the authority to investigate and make recommendations to other flood risk management agencies about mitigating flooding in specific localities.

“The council takes flood prevention very seriously and, where necessary, will use these powers again in the future to help tackle flooding in the East Riding.”

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House builders developing properties in the have signed up to the ’s FirstBuy scheme, designed to help first-time buyers’ purchase newly built properties.

The scheme works by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and the house builders loaning a total of 20 per cent of the property price, meaning purchasers only have to make up the other 80 per cent from savings and a to buy a home outright.

It is anticipated that FirstBuy could help up to 200 households in the East Riding between now and 2013 and because FirstBuy is only available on new-build properties it also offers a timely boost to the market as well as supporting jobs in the construction industry and related trades.

Councillor Symon Fraser, cabinet portfolio holder for housing, environment and planning at Council, was pleased with the announcement.

He said:  “We all know that house prices in the East Riding are beyond the reach of many people living and working here, especially those trying to set up their first home.  It has become very difficult for people to save the large deposits banks and building societies want.

“This scheme offers help to first-time buyers and will be most welcome, it will also help to shorten the council’s housing waiting list.”

Subject to contracts being signed over the summer, house builders offering FirstBuy in the East Riding, will include national builders , Bovis, David Wilson, Gladedale, , Persimmon and Redrow, as well as local firms, such as Fulford Builders and Peter Ward Homes.

A variety of property types and sizes will be available on schemes across the whole of the East Riding, including the main towns of , , Brough, , , , , , , and , as well as smaller villages, such as Barmby Moor, Beeford and Hook.

David Curtis, executive director at the Homes and Communities Agency said: “I am really pleased that our will mean that local people can buy the home they want at a price they can afford. By having homes available in almost 20 locations from nine developers means that first time buyers will have a fantastic choice. “

Anyone wanting more information should contact the house builders direct, or approach my4walls, the local HomeBuy Agent at www.my4walls.co.uk

No fees are charged on the loan for the first five years and the loan has to be repaid when the property is sold or the mortgage paid off.

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The council is carrying out a further public consultation on the ’s planning blueprint for the future known as the ‘Local Development Framework.’

The consultation is on the draft Core Strategy, which is the main planning document for the Local Development Framework. Once adopted, the Core Strategy will guide decisions on the location of new , businesses, shopping, leisure and community facilities to 2028, and will replace the existing Local Plans.

A previous consultation took place in summer 2010, which generated 2250 comments. The council has decided to carry out a further consultation on specific parts of the Core Strategy so that it can address responses to last year’s consultation and take into account new information on the demand and need for new housing and the amount of jobs that are expected to be created.

The consultation seeks views on:

*     The ‘vision’ statements which set out how the East Riding’s main towns will look by 2028.

These have been prepared for Anlaby/Willerby/Kirkella; ; ; ; ; ; Hessle; Willerby; Elloughton/Brough; Hedon; ; ; ; ; and .

*     The number of new houses that will be built throughout the East Riding and  how many will be built in each town and village.

The consultation proposes that 25,500 new houses will be built in the East Riding  for the period up to 2028.  This reflects a number of issues including: anticipated demographic changes  (birth rates, death rates, migration into and out of the East Riding); the level of anticipated housing need (for example, emerging new households); the number of new jobs that are forecast to be provided; and the need to limit development near in order to support the city’s regeneration.

The number of new houses proposed in ‘rural service centre’ villages has been reduced to address local priorities about keeping new development in these settlements proportionate to the size of the village.

*     Changes to the policy setting out what types of development can be built in smaller rural villages and the countryside, including:

o     Allowing small scale housing development in villages that are close to the main towns and which have good access to larger centres. Small scale is usually no more than five homes. Examples include Barmby Moor, Nafferton and Woodmansey.

o     Allowing single homes to be built in rural villages that have basic services such as a shop, village hall or primary school without  the requirement to demonstrate ‘local needs’ for new houses.

*     The amount of land that is needed to support new jobs and the economy.

Updated economic growth forecasts suggest that 235 hectares of employment land is needed in the East Riding to 2028. The majority of employment land in the East Riding is located along the M62 corridor at sites such as Capitol Park/Junction 36 at Goole, Melton, Hessle/Humber Bridgehead.

In addition, approximately 200 hectares is proposed at Hedon Haven to support the anticipated growth of the renewable and low carbon energy sector and the recently announced ‘Enterprise Zone’ status.

*     The amount of affordable housing that will be provided with new housing developments.

 

Recent studies of affordable housing needs and the East Riding housing market suggest that, in the larger towns, affordable housing should be required on sites where 15 or more homes are built. In other areas affordable housing will be required when three or more homes are built. The proportion of the new housing that should be affordable varies throughout the East Riding from 5 to 25 per cent depending upon how economically viable it is to build in different areas.

*     How much recreation space will be provided through new developments.

The consultation proposes what standards we should use to determine how much and what types of recreational and amenity space will be provided with new developments.

How to access the document and make comments Full details about the Local Development Framework and all its documents including information on the number of proposed houses in different parts of the East Riding is at http://eastriding.limehouse.co.uk/portal/

Telephone: 01482 391739

Email: forward.planning@eastriding.gov.uk

Address: Forward Planning, County Hall, Cross Street, Beverley, 9BA

The consultation closes on Monday 19 December 2011.

Public ‘drop in’ sessions are being held throughout the consultation period at the following locations, from 2.30-6.30pm:

Date              Location

Tues. 22 November       Withernsea Library

Tues. 22 November       Hessle Library

Wed. 23 November Bridlington North Library

Tues. 29 November       Hedon Library

Tues. 29 November       Pocela Centre,  Pocklington

Wed. 30 November Goole Library

Thurs. 1 December Beverley Library

Thurs. 1 December       Willerby Library

Mon. 5 December   Driffield Library

Tues. 6 December Petuaria Centre,  Brough

Tues. 6 December Hornsea Library

Wed. 7 December   Howden Library

Wed. 7 December   Wicstun Centre, Market Weighton

Thurs. 8 December       Cottingham Library

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Council’s Team is inviting private landlords, who own properties in the area, to attend one of three business seminar events taking place in November.

The seminars are free events and include workshops looking at excess cold, damp and mould growth within properties and what landlords can do to prevent it occurring and what works need to be carried out to remedy the hazards.

An update will also be given about changes, changes to legislation, landlord training and the new Green Deal and Energy Efficiency Bill.

Seminars will be held on Thursday, 10 November at Park Golf Centre, Tuesday, 15 November in the Waterfront Suite at Leisure Centre and on Wednesday, 23 November in the Harbour Suite at The Spa .

These informal events have been organised as part of council’s commitment to working in partnership with private landlords and promoting responsible letting.

All events will take place between 6-8.30pm.

If you would like to book a place or would like further information, call (01482) 396301 (selecting option 2) or email private.sector.housing@eastriding.gov.uk

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The council is aware of the high density of private rented accommodation in the and Hessle areas and also that there is a higher number of service requests and complaints from residents in both areas.

As a result and following on from the successful Advance private rented inspection programme, which helped ensure homes were meeting the minimum legal standards as well as providing valuable assistance to landlords, a similar survey of residents will now take place in parts of Hessle and Cottingham.

The survey will enable the council to develop a clearer picture of both the type and nature of housing occupation in the area and residents will receive a letter this week about the survey and explaining that an officer from the housing team will be visiting in the near future.

While the main aim of the survey is to help improve standards of pubic health by ensuring that privately rented homes are meeting the minimum legal standards, staff will also determine whether tenants and owner occupiers are eligible for help with the heating and insulation of their homes which, in some cases, may be free of charge.

Where a tenant or owner occupier does not want to participate they can contact the council and no visit will be made.

Those tenants who live in properties which have been accredited by their landlord as part of the council’s accreditation schemes will not be visited as they already comply with the minimum standards and in many cases exceed them.

The benefits of a visit include a follow up home safety check by the Fire Service, the focussing of energy efficiency programmes in the area and the opportunity to address any identified health and safety issues.

Landlords are encouraged to join the council’s accreditation schemes, which have numerous benefits, with details available on the council’s website or by contacting Sarah Horner, landlord liaison officer, on (01482) 396028.

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Two more derelict houses could be turned into homes again after they were identified as eye-sores by Council.

The council’s team is working towards compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) for the properties which will then be sold on to developers who agree to bring them up to a decent standard.

A notice has already been posted at a property in Lansdowne Road, , and the council is also preparing to take action at a property in which has drawn complaints from neighbours.

Councillor Jane Evison, portfolio holder for cultural services, housing and public protection at the council, said: “Putting these properties back into use will not only provide homes for people, it will also help to keep the looking its best.

“The deterioration of an empty property can have a noticeable affect on the area. We can understand how people living near these properties feel, as they do not want to be affected by the possibility of fly tipping, anti-social behaviour or other problems empty homes can attract.

“Ideally we would always choose to work with the owners of an empty building to make sure it is put to good use, but where this is not possible we can choose to use a to resolve the situation.”

The latest CPOs follow recent success in Seaton Road, Hessle, where a derelict three bedroom mid-terraced property was bought by the council. After the council completed the CPO process The Lands Tribunal set a price of £65,000. The house was then sold on the market for £68,000.

Terms of the sale included a time scale for the new owner to complete the refurbishment work to the house, which will ensure that the property is renovated and re-occupied.

The result will be beneficial to the whole of the Seaton Road area and demonstrates that the council is dedicated to improving residents’ quality of life.

Three empty properties in will also be put back into use after the council negotiated to buy them from their owners, avoiding the CPO process.

Most empty properties are brought back into use by informal negotiation with the owner. Should that fail compulsory purchase under The Housing Act (1985) is the last resort to restore a home to use.

Anyone concerned about an empty property should contact Roger Curry, empty property officer, on (01482) 396016.

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Landlords throughout the are being invited to business seminars which will explain recent changes to the law.

Two informal events are being held in and by Council’s team as part of the council’s commitment to working in partnership with private landlords and promoting responsible letting.

The seminars will provide information about issues including imminent changes and amendments to legislation around the rental of properties.

Those taking part will also hear from a local landlord about best practice and the use of tenant guarantors.

The event in Goole will also include a update presentation on the additional licensing scheme which has recently been introduced in the town, while those who attend the event in Bridlington will be able to discuss the level of fire precautions acceptable in properties.

Sarah Horner, the council’s landlord liaison officer, has helped to organise the events. She said:  “The seminars will be a useful opportunity for private landlords to put their questions to us and share their ideas in a relaxed and informal setting.”

The first seminar will be held on Thursday, 17 March, in the Waterfront Suite at Goole Leisure Centre, while the second will be held on Monday, 28 March, in the Harbour Suite at The Spa Bridlington.

Both events will take place between 6pm and 8.30pm.

For more information or to book a place on either seminar please email private.sector.housing@eastriding.gov.uk stating which you would like to attend as well as your name, address and contact phone number or call the private sector housing team on (01482) 396301 selecting option 2.

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Landlords in are being asked to contact the council’s team as soon as possible to establish whether their houses in multiple occupation require a licence.

An additional licensing scheme for houses in multiple occupation has been introduced in the south east of Goole by Council.

Since Friday, 14 January, properties in this area require a license if they are two or more storeys tall and occupied by four or more people that do not form a single household but share facilities.

These properties are now designated as licensable houses in multiple occupation, which helps the council ensure that the properties are being managed effectively, have sufficient amenities and adequate fire precautions for the people living there.

The license also requires landlords to act in a responsible fashion. Inspections will be carried out on properties by officers from the private sector housing team.

If landlords think they may own a licensable property they should apply for a license as soon as possible to avoid legal action.

Councillor Jane Evison, portfolio holder for cultural services, housing and public protection at of Yorkshire Council, said: “This work will help us to make sure the safety of tenants remains a priority.

“The additional licensing scheme in Goole is a great way to make sure that the right facilities are available for people living in rented accommodation there – whether that is kitchens and bathrooms or fire plans which will help everyone to escape the property safely should the worst happen.”

Before the additional licensing scheme was introduced the council wrote to all known landlords and to all 4,041 properties within the affected area of Goole to consult with them about the proposed change.

Those written to were invited to get in touch with the council to discuss any concerns they had around this project.

The private sector housing team received replies from around 10 per cent of the properties written to within Goole, and 83 per cent of these were in favour of the proposals. A minority of just 49 properties wrote back to say they did not agree with the implementation of additional licensing.

Any landlords or residents who would like further information can ring (01482) 396301 selecting option two or email private.sector.housing@eastriding.gov.uk

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People waiting for a home to call their own will benefit as of Yorkshire Council and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) work together to make more properties available.

The council is hoping to buy up to ten properties on the market throughout the East Riding, which will be renovated and added to the council’s stock.

The properties will make 2011 a special year for families who are offered somewhere to live. Six of the properties have already been acquired by the council.

The move to bring even more housing stock to those on the housing waiting list in the East Riding comes as the council and the HCA work on a project to build 331 new homes to be added to social housing stock in the area.

Councillor Jane Evison, portfolio holder for cultural services, housing and public protection at Council, said: “We are so pleased to be working with the HCA on another project which will make a real difference to families living in the East Riding.

“This council has already shown its commitment to providing more high quality housing stock for residents throughout the area by working with local contractors and the HCA to build hundreds of homes which will benefit East Riding residents.

“Buying these older properties is another way that we can help people waiting for a home, by putting houses for sale in the area to good use.

“I look forward to seeing these properties refurbished and becoming homes for families in the near future.”

The total cost of the properties being looked at is just over £1m and the HCA will contribute nearly half of this amount.

Jayne Bishop and her family will be moving into their new home in Denison Road, in the next few weeks. The three bedroom house was bought as part of the programme.

She said: “Due to unforeseen circumstances both my children and I faced the possibility of being homeless which caused an enormous amount of upset and pressure within our family home.

“I was overwhelmed with the care and support the council’s housing department gave us. We are now looking very much forward to moving into our new home and very pleased that it’s within the same community.

“We are extremely grateful to the council for making it possible for us to remain within the same area avoiding any disruption with schools and work. It makes me very proud to be part of the East Riding community.”

Lisa Jones, areas manager at the Homes and Communities Agency, said:
“It is fantastic news  that we have been able to  provide  East Riding  with 50 per cent of the funds needed  to help them meet their ambition and we are thrilled that the Bishop family  have been able to start 2011 by moving into a new home.

“By helping the council buy individual empty houses across the district we can ensure that the different housing needs of all local people are met.”

Properties in , , Holme upon Spalding Moor, Pocklington, and Woodmansey are part of the council’s shopping list as part of the project with a view to providing them to families from mid March. Work is now starting to make sure the properties are up-to-standard in time for the first families to move in.

The council’s share of the funding will come from ring-fenced commuted sums that are designed to ensure that affordable housing is widely available.

This is money paid by developers as a part of the planning process where they have built developments within the East Riding without an element of affordable housing.

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