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Council reveals strategy for bringing empty properties back into use

The public are being invited to comment on a new strategy aimed at bringing empty properties back into use across Bridgend County Borough.

There are around 1,200 private sector homes in the area which have been lying empty for at least six months, and more than 40 per cent of them have been empty for over two years.

The majority of empty properties can be found around the town centres in Bridgend, Porthcawl and Maesteg, but the places with the highest percentage of empty properties are the Ogmore and Garw valleys.

While not all empty properties are in a state of disrepair, many are, which can give a poor impression of an area and deter investment. Some empty properties also attract anti-social behaviour such as graffiti, arson and fly tipping.

The council proposes to tackle the problem by working proactively with property owners to make them more aware of empty home grants and empty property loans that may be available to them. Where properties continue to remain empty and are a nuisance to the local community, the council will consider using its legislative powers such as enforced sales, empty dwelling management orders and compulsory purchase orders.

The council will also explore its options for increasing the council tax premium on properties that are empty for two years or longer.

We are committed to tackling the blight of properties that have been lying empty for a long period of time and have deteriorated to a state of disrepair. There are many reasons why properties become empty, so together with our partners we want to survey property owners to establish what their issues are and regularly advise them of the help and assistance that is available to them such as grants and loans.

We’ve previously stated how keen we are to create more opportunities for people to live within our town centres as doing so would provide a sizeable boost for the local economy. Bringing empty properties back into use would support this ambition. We haven’t owned any residential properties ourselves since the transfer of our housing stock in September 2003 to the Valleys to Coast housing association. But we’ll be working proactively to ensure that there is a co-ordinated approach to tackling this issue and preventing the negative consequences associated with empty properties from continuing or getting worse.

It will be essential for all information we hold about empty properties to be up to date and we’re proposing to develop a confidential online system so that people can report empty properties and any related issues.

Councillor Dhanisha Patel, Bridgend County Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Wellbeing and Future Generations

The strategy suggests prioritising empty properties on key criteria such as nuisance value, detriment, location and housing demand and not just how long a property has been empty.

A public consultation over the council’s ‘Empty Property Strategy 2019 – 2023’ can be completed on our consultation pages.

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