Posted: Thu 13th Jul 2023

Flintshire Council secures over £500,000 to bring empty homes back into use

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jul 13th, 2023

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Flintshire Council has been handed more than £500,000 from the Welsh Government towards bringing empty homes back into use.

At a meeting of the authority’s housing and community scrutiny committee, housing services manager Sean O’Donnell confirmed the funding will be used to bring houses in major disrepair back into a condition in which they can be rented out.

In the monthly update on voids, empty council-owned properties which require work between the previous tenant moving out and being allocated to another tenant, the committee was told the authority had been given the additional funding.

It comes through the Welsh Government’s TACP (transitional accommodation capital programme), and amounts to £580,000, which is more than the initial amount the council had applied for.

Mr O’Donnell said the funding had been provided to work on properties the council would not ordinarily be able to repair because it did not have the budget. These homes are properties with major disrepair or structural issues.

He said: “It’s all about bringing stock back into use that we as a council may not have done given our budget restrictions.

“We placed an initial bid of over £200,000 with some void properties on.

“We’ve had some really successful discussions with Welsh Government, we’ve got contractors available and been allocated £580,000. That has gone directly to the void properties we’re working on.”

Mr O’Donnell said the council has acquired three properties from a housing association in the Holywell area with major structural repairs that required “£70,000 worth investment each to get them back to where they should be”.

He added that contractors had also been tested to ensure they were capable of working in such environments and scenarios.

Buckley Pentrobin Cllr Dennis Hutchinson (Ind) expressed surprise at the amount of money required to refurbish the properties.

“How on earth did we arrive at that figure?” he asked.

Mr O’Donnell said the authority stepped in when the housing association disposed of the properties, fearing they could be snapped up by unknown landlords and wanted to take control of those houses some of which joined onto other council properties.

He added: “We had tenants ready for them. The fact that they needed this work doing unfortunately demonstrated the fact that they were allowed by the previous owner to fall into a state of disrepair.”

Earlier in the meeting members were told the council currently had 261 void properties but now has up to six contractors working on them – with 17 refurbished properties handed back last week ready to be rented out.

This is significant progress on previous reports to the committee where concerns had been expressed about the time it was taking to reduce the backlog.

But Shotton East and Higher Cllr Dave Evans (Lab) did raise concerns about empty properties in sheltered accommodation at Dodds Court in Shotton, and the speed at which they are being turned around and reallocated.

He also voiced concern about properties being allocated far in advance of when they will be ready to move into, saying that one person had been waiting six months to move into a one-bedroom bungalow after being told they were being allocated one.

Mr O’Donnell reminded councillors of the pandemic’s impact on the backlog and until recently the lack of contractors available to carry out the work.

He said: “Now we’ve got these contractors in place we’re going to be able to allocate them quickly and receive those properties back quicker than ever before.”

By Rory Sheehan – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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