Aug 132013
 

Empty and neglected homes across the are being brought back into use as 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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of Yorkshire Council has successfully bid for £1m in funding to help build an extra care sheltered scheme in .

The authority is one of only 86 successful bidders outside London to be allocated Department of Health grant funding for the scheme, which is proposed for land in Queens Road.

The money will come from the Care and Support Specialised Housing Fund. The £6.75m scheme will provide 40 two-bedroom apartments for older people. Care and support which will be tailored to need will be provided on site, along with communal facilities. Extra care sheltered housing seeks to allow people with care and support needs to live independently in self-contained apartments which will reduce admissions to hospitals and residential care.

The cost includes the replacement of the existing all-weather sports pitch on the site to a more suitable location. The rest of the funding comes from the council’s capital programme and borrowing. The proposals come after the council’s housing strategy identified a need for an older person’s extra care scheme in Beverley.

A planning application for the sheltered housing scheme will soon be considered by Council’s planning committee. Councillor Symon Fraser, East Riding Council portfolio holder for environment, housing and planning, said:

“This is a great opportunity for the council to provide affordable rented accommodation which will help older people remain active for as long as possible without needing to move into a residential care home.”

“Not only will the proposed scheme provide modern, spacious affordable housing for older people, but it will provide employment and training opportunities in the local area.”

Councillor Richard Harrap, portfolio holder for adult and carer services, said:

“Housing plays a crucial role in helping older and disabled people to live as independently as possible and, as the East Riding has an ageing population, in this type of supported affordable housing is more important than ever. Moreover, better and more suitable housing will reduce pressures on carers and families.”

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Flooded-homes-in-Beverley

Last month the Member of Parliament for and Holderness, Graham Stuart launched a petition to to seek a resolution with the Association of British Insurers to find a replacement for the Statement of Principles that ensures home remains available and affordable.

Graham said, “It is deeply worrying that a successor to the Statement of Principles, which is due to expire in June this year, has not yet been found.

“The official closing date for the petition responses to be returned to me was Monday 25th February but I won’t be handing the petition into Downing Street until next week so if you have not signed the petition there is still time to do so.

“Please go to my website http://www.grahamstuart.com/campaigns/ to download a copy of the petition or drop into your local council office or call my office on 0207 219 4340 and we will send you a hard copy by the post.

“Ask your neighbours, friends and family to sign the petition so that the voice of Beverley and Holderness rings loud and clear in Downing Street.”

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Concuil

of Yorkshire’s 2013 – 2018 sets out how the Council and its partners will work together to tackle the causes of homelessness and meet the needs of people without access to a home of their own.

This new strategy builds on the work of the last Homelessness Strategy published in 2008. It has been developed after consideration of the findings of an independent homelessness review (undertaken in August 2012) and utilises a range of data sources, including official statistics and stakeholder surveys.

The number of households accepted as being owed the main homelessness duty by the Council has been increasing year on year, with 463 homelessness acceptances in 2011 compared to only 337 in 2009.

Despite a slight fall in numbers in 2012, there are concerns that people are increasingly facing difficulties in managing their income and costs as a result of the continuing economic downturn, and this is likely to be exacerbated by the changes to benefit from April 2013 and the introduction of Universal Credit from October 2013.

Recognising the importance of early intervention and prevention to reduce homelessness, the Council and its partners have identified the following three priority outcomes.

The first is to prevent households from becoming homeless through effective partnership working. Vulnerable individuals at risk of homelessness will be identified at an early stage of their housing need, and their underlying problems addressed before they reach a crisis point.

Key to this will be effective information and advice services, and the Council will work with the voluntary sector to improve the quality and accessibility of housing advice provision across the East Riding.

The second priority outcome is to ensure that there are effective pathways into housing for people that are homeless. This will help to prevent repeat homelessness and make the goal of independent living more attainable for vulnerable people at risk of homelessness. It will also help to ensure that there is sufficient movement through schemes to promote the availability of supported and temporary  for those that need it most.

The third priority outcome is to secure access to safety net services and support for those in crisis to manage a transition to settled . Alongside the housing, pathway set out in outcome two, this outcome will ensure that there are sufficient support services for the most vulnerable groups, including people that are sleeping rough and young people.

This will help the Council to achieve the ’s No Second Night Out aim.

This aims to ensure that any person that is new to the streets is contacted within 24 hrs and offered support and assistance, including access to emergency .

Comments on the draft strategy are invited up to 15 March 2013, which can be viewed at www.eastriding.gov.uk/say Following the consultation period; the strategy will be taken to Cabinet for approval.

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Nov 072012
 

Local has attacked plans to impose 20% VAT on which could cripple Britain’s fragile market.

EU attempts to introduce the tax on new homes would have a on the UK’s fragile and on its house building industry.

The taxation review by the EU could force the UK to scrap its zero VAT rating on all new-build homes as Brussels want to standardise across Europe.

“The huge increase would price people out of the market, make it even more difficult to get a and bring the building industry to its knees,” said , Euro-MP.

“I’m told that only about 130,000 homes were built across Britain last year – a historic low and plainly reduction in numbers would exacerbate the country’s housing crisis and render useless every initiative introduced to help increase the supply of homes.”

The has already come under fire from the (RLA) who have warned the move would “badly hit” both owner occupiers and and would cause “” to the housing market in the UK .

“The EU ‘one size fits all’ strikes again,” said Mr Bloom. “The UK housing market has a totally different tradition to the rest of Europe as has been the objective of most whereas on the continent renting has been the norm.”

“We must leave the EU and manage our own finances and resume our trade with the world,” he added.

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Linden-HU17

Downsizing is now a major reason for moving house CASH-SAVVY home hunters are choosing to downsize earlier than expected to help with household bills and raise windfall money.

According to a new report, age is becoming less relevant as one in five people are downsizing in their earlier years. The study by reveals 59 per cent of people want to move to a smaller property better suited to their circumstances.

A third would be looking to reduce their bills and one in three wanted to downsize to support their retirementplans. Developer currently has a range of that fit perfectly into the ‘downsizing’ bracket across its locations across , , York, Leeds and North East Lincolnshire.

Linden Homes sales director Steve Woomble said: “Our extensive portfolio of new homes in carefully selected locations offer some fantastic opportunities for people looking to downsize. “These can range from our wonderful coach houses, with very low maintenance outdoor spaces, to three and even four beds that tick all the boxes whilst still offering enough space for the family to visit.” And for those with an existing property to sell, there is the popular part exchange scheme.

Linden Homes will obtain two independent valuations on your existing property from local agents on your behalf. Providing you and your existing property meet certain criteria, Linden Homes will then make you an offer for your existing property, based on the valuation reports by the local estate agents, leaving you free to reserve your new dream home.

Meanwhile, the -backed New Buy scheme is also available to new and existing homeowners. Just a five per cent will secure an apartment or home up to £500,000 – with Linden Homes working in partnership with major High Street lenders to secure a 95 per cent fixed rate .

Other findings of the Lloyds TSB survey include:

- A fifth of those considering downsizing are looking to trade down earlier than expected, with financial concerns as the main reason.

- Almost half of homeowners living in their second home are considering downsizing.

- Some 63 per cent of potential downsizers are aged over 55, and more than a quarter between 46-55. Over five per cent are aged between 36-45.

- 36 per cent of people who make aprofit when they sell their home plan to invest that money into a new property.

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More than 35 households in the most at risk to coastal erosion have benefited from funding secured by the council to help them adapt to the impact of coastal change.

In December 2009, the council was awarded £1.2 million by Defra (Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to undertake a Coastal Change Pathfinder project. The funding was not intended as a ‘compensation’ scheme but rather to provide practical support and guidance to those most at risk.

The funding has now been allocated in full to households in or near Aldbrough, Cowden, , Skipsea, Tunstall and Ulrome.

Support has been used to help with the cost of property demolitions and site restorations, which previously fell in full to the residents. In addition, financial support has been provided to cover practical relocation costs and for establishing residents in their in safe locations. People have also received money towards removals and the purchase of essential white goods and furnishings for their new properties. The support offered to each resident has been based on an assessment of individual circumstances and the criteria set by the Council.

There is also a small grants fund to enable individuals, groups and businesses in the East Riding to develop unique approaches to coastal erosion and coastal flood risk management.

Councillor Jane Evison, portfolioholder for rural issues and cultural services, said: “The council cannot turn back the forces of nature but what we have for the first time been able to do through Coastal Pathfinder is to provide real practical support and assistance to people most at risk to coastal erosion .

“As the project comes to an end in March, I want to stress that we will not be resting on our laurels but will continue to lobby hard for additional funding, recognising the strong case for supporting people living on undefended East Riding coastline that does not meet the criteria for sea defences and highlighting how much can be achieved with relatively small amounts of money.”

A feedback report on Coastal Pathfinder was presented to the council’s cabinet on 31 January 2012 and is available on the council’s website.

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cottage

Umbrella company and holiday cottages are first two successful applicants to low carbon heating incentive

Umbrella supplier Booth Brothers in Sheffield entered the history books today by becoming one of the first places in the UK to get the ’s Renewable Heat Incentive.

Its offices, housed in an 18th century former corn mill in Penistone, will be kept warm through an underfloor heating system powered by a heat pump.

The second installation to be accredited is at a set of holiday cottages in . A ground source heat pump will provide heat and hot water to five holiday lets at Broadgate Farm Cottages in .

The £860m Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) was launched last year to make it more financially attractive for industry and businesses to install low carbon heating systems like heat pumps, biomass boilers or solar thermal panels.

The RHI is expected to increase the number of installations in industry, the commercial and public sector by seven times to around 126,000 and support the thousands of existing jobs in the heating sector.

Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said:

“It’s fantastic news that the Renewable Heat Incentive has received its first two successful applicants, and this is just the start.

“Renewable heat is a largely untapped resource and an important new green industry of the future. It’ll help the UK shift away from fossil fuel, reducing carbon emissions and encouraging innovation, jobs and growth in new advanced technologies.”

Chief Executive of Booth Brothers, Charles Booth said:

“Being amongst the first installations to be accredited under the Renewable Heat Incentive is very satisfying for Booth Brothers in terms of developing our strategic target of carbon neutral for our Bullhouse Mill site and eco-umbrella factory. Last year our Old Corn Mill offices were commended for their eco rating and we generate electricity from two wind turbines, solar panels and hydro generation so making the heat we use low carbon was naturally the next step.”

Owner of Broadgate Farm Cottages, Elaine Robinson said:

“We don’t have mains gas and the price of oil and LPG is very expensive so when we decided to develop the holiday cottages a ground source heat pump was the most economically attractive in the long term, especially with the Renewable Heat Incentive. This is the first of our applications to be approved.”

Currently around half of the UK’s carbon emissions come from the energy used to produce heat – more than from generating electricity. The RHI will reduce emissions by 44 million tonnes of carbon to 2020, equivalent to the annual carbon emitted by 20 typical new gas power stations.

Over 95% of heat in the UK is currently produced by burning fossil fuel but with North Sea supplies now in decline leading to an increase in imports, low carbon alternatives are needed.

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of Yorkshire Council has been successful in securing funding for further initiatives to help reduce the health impacts on people who are struggling to keep their homes warm during the cold winter months.

The council has been awarded £46,000, the full amount it bid for under the Department of Health’s Warm Homes Healthy People Fund, and will be using the funding over the next few months in partnership with organisations like the NHS.

Plans include using some of the money for emergency oil funding for up to 30 vulnerable households who cannot afford to buy heat during the winter months. A further 1,000 households are set to benefit from cold weather alarms which will inform people when they need to turn up their heating to maintain a healthy warmth.

The funding will also be used to support the council’s existing Health through Warmth project, leading to an increase in the number of front-line NHS staff able to provide fuel poverty and energy efficiency advice, and it is planned to hold additional events in rural communities to recruit and train energy champions for a project run by the .

Councillor Symon Fraser, portfolio holder for the environment, and planning, said: “I am delighted we have been successful in obtaining this funding which can be used immediately to help people in the East Riding.

“Each winter there is a spike in the number of people suffering from cold related illnesses and it is a priority for us to continue to seek out available funding opportunities to try and help them stay healthy in their own home.

“In November, the council confirmed that we would be continuing to invest in measures to make homes in the East Riding more energy efficient despite the reduced amount of national funding now available. These include a discount scheme run in partnership with Npower to provide cavity wall and loft insulation and additional funding to continue our award-winning scheme to install air source heat pumps to properties in rural areas which are off the main gas network.”

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Under new proposals, life could become a lot easier for ’s housebuyers.

David Cameron announced this week that house buyers will be able to borrow up to 95 per cent of the value of their – new builds so the construction industry will get a welcome boost – which he hopes will “get Britain building again”.

It’s a welcome boost to the property market in Beverley, which has been hit hard by the difficulty of borrowing to by new homes and should give a boost to new schemes in Hopwood, on Manchester Street (Hey Mount) and on Darnhill, as well as stimulate new schemes.

It’s hoped that the indemnity scheme to be underwritten by the Government will help hundreds of first-time buyers in Beverley make their first step on to the housing ladder.

Following the boom and subsequent bust of the mid 2000s, borrowing became a lot more difficult for Beverley’s would-be house owners. High-risk had brought many banks and building societies to their knees – a great example – and many first-time buyers were being asked to stump up as much as £40,000 as a on their first home.

Mr Cameron recently told the CBI: “When first-time buyers on a good salary cannot get a reasonable mortgage, the whole market grinds to a halt.

“And that ricochets around the economy, affecting builders, retailers, plumbers – all the people that depend on a that is moving.

“If we don’t do something like this we are not going to get this vital market moving… We will restart the housing market and get Britain building again.”

Ministers will also do their best to kick-start some of the 130,000 building projects which are estimated to have been approved but delayed by funding problems, many of them in and around Beverley.

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