Funding windfall will bring empty homes into use

LET'S GET TO WORK -- Coun Ken Knight (Lab), of Hucknall (right) and Coun Steven Carroll launch the scheme at a property on Watnall Road, Hucknall
LET'S GET TO WORK -- Coun Ken Knight (Lab), of Hucknall (right) and Coun Steven Carroll launch the scheme at a property on Watnall Road, Hucknall
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ABUMPER grant of nearly £3.5 million has been won to bring hundreds of empty homes in Hucknall and the rest of Ashfield back into use.

The cash windfall is the third largest given to any local authority in the country and means Ashfield District Council will be able to work with landlords to restore 285 empty properties.

Council chiefs say refurbishing the homes will enable folk on waiting lists to be housed more quickly and help improve run-down parts of the district.

Ashfield council leader Coun John Knight (Lab), said they had been ‘phenomenally successful’ with the bid and described receiving such a large amount of money as a ‘massive boost’.

“This is about genuinely getting these houses back into the market for the next two to three generations,” he said.

“We don’t want to see any chipboard anywhere in any windows in the district!”

The grant has been awarded by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and totals £3,492,000.

It was applied for by a consortium led by the district council, meaning that in addition to the 285 properties being brought back into use in Ashfield, repairs to 30 units for Mansfield District Council and 30 for Newark and Sherwood District Council, will also be funded.

To qualify for a share of the grant, a property must have been empty for more than six months.

The council will fund 50 per cent of the cost of the work needed to bring the home back into occupation, with the landlord paying the other 50 per cent.

Repairs will be administered by the council and the work is subject to the landlord entering a 10-year lease agreement with the authority, ensuring long-term sustainability and protecting public money from potential rogue landlords.

Said Coun Knight: “It’s not about giving money to the landlords.

“With match-funding there will be £7m and so it should go even further.”

Coun Steven Carroll (Lab), lead member for housing at Ashfield, said that tackling the empty homes problem will also help deal with anti-social behaviour and the provision of decent homes for residents.

“It will bring up our communities and I am really excited about what we are going to do,” he said.

“You cannot underestimate the difference it will make.”

Any landlord interested in participating in the scheme should contact the council on 01623 457205, on 0800 3280356 or email emptyhomes@ashfield-dc.gov.uk.