Nearly 500 homes are empty in Chesterfield, figures show.
As Chesterfield Borough Council looks to find land for 7,600 new properties by 2031 to cope with the growing population, statistics show that 490 homes are not inhabited in the town.
However, the authority has plans to bring the properties back into use with its Private Sector Empty Homes Strategy 2016-2020.
Councillor Tom Murphy, cabinet member for housing, said: “Empty homes are bad news for neighbours who often have to put up with vandalism and anti-social behaviour and can see a decrease in the value of their own property. “In addition, empty properties can mean a significant reduction in funds for the council so it makes sense for everyone that we put plans in place to tackle the problem and bring these homes back into use.”
A council spokesman added: “Currently there are 490 empty properties in Chesterfield with approximately 1,500 applications on our housing waiting list.
“Bringing these homes back into use will give opportunities for people currently on the waiting list to buy or rent their own house.
“The council would always prefer to work informally with property owners to bring empty homes back into use.
“However, where these negotiations prove unsuccessful, the new strategy means the council can now consider measures such as compulsory purchase or enforced sale of the property in order to return it back to use.
“These interventions will only be considered where all other intervention has proved unsuccessful.”
Experts say there are a number of reasons why a property can be empty – the owner may have run out of money to renovate it, for example.
Michael Jones, director of Toseland Properties on New Square, Chesterfield, said he ‘very much’ welcomed the council’s proposals.
He added: “There are so many positives to take from these plans including reducing the homelessness figures in the area as well as supplying those 1,500 applications with homes which are currently not available.
“I’m very much of the opinion that nobody in Chesterfield should either be homeless or without adequate housing knowing that there are 490 empty houses which could be put to better use.
“One empty property does not benefit anyone and the council’s plans will improve areas and the quality of life for Chesterfield residents.”
Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins said: “This is a really positive step by the council.
“Hopefully the plans will free up family homes which are currently left unoccupied and attract anti-social behaviour and other problems to streets in Chesterfield.
“New figures show that over the last six years housebuilding has been at its lowest rate since 1923 so it is vital we are utilising all of our housing stock,” he added.
Commenting on our Facebook page, Jayne Radcliffe said: “Get them cleaned up and open. Many people need homes.
“Just think how much revenue the council has lost while they’ve been empty.”
Carla Ancliffe said: “There are a lot of people in need of housing.
“I know how hard it is. I was still living with my little boy at my mum’s house as I was waiting for a landlord to get back to me about a home.”
Pam Keighley said: “There shouldn’t even be that number of empty properties!
“It’s going to be a big bill to clean up nearly 500 houses.”
Phillip Bailey said: “They should have done this years ago.”
John Stevenson said: “The council should have done it a long time ago.”