£6m empty homes boost for Liverpool

Housing hit list

Liverpool City Council is delivering a new, £6 million programme to bring an additional 1,000 properties back into use.

The Council is investing the funds from its capital reserves, to build on the huge amount of progress which has been made in tackling the problem of empty homes in the city since 2012.

The investment will see a range of new initiatives being carried out over the next four years, including:

• The provision of loans and other forms of subsidy to encourage owners to bring empty properties back into use.

Acquiring long-term vacant properties from owners who wish to sell, so they can be refurbished.

• Stepping up enforcement work, with more robust legal support to take action against owners.

• Working in partnership with social housing providers to target problem properties and problem neighbourhoods.

• Developing an ‘Invest to Earn’ pilot project with a leading social housing partner, which would see the Council purchasing and refurbishing properties for market rent purposes, with the revenue generated ploughed into bringing more properties back into use.

As part of the plans, the city council will also support local businesses and the creation of local jobs by opening up its refurbishment framework, inviting small and medium sized local contractors to bid for works of under £100,000. It means that many more Liverpool firms will be able to benefit from the city’s empty homes drive.

The new, £6 million programme will build on the range of work already on-going in the city. The Council’s Empty Homes Initiative, launched in 2012, has brought 948 vacant properties back into use so far, with 951 more in the pipeline; and the forthcoming appointment of a Strategic Housing Delivery Partner will help the Council refurbish a further 1,000 properties

Together, the city’s Empty Homes Initiative, the appointment of a housing delivery partner and the additional £6 million investment, could bring around 4,000 houses back into use in the city by 2018, almost half the total number in Liverpool.

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “I pledged to bring at least 1,000 properties back into use during my term of office. We are already on-track to surpass this target, but I want us to go even further, and this additional funding will allow us to build on the huge amount of work that is going on, across the city.

“It reaffirms our commitment to do everything in our power to tackle the empty properties which blight our neighbourhoods. It will enable us to get tougher on irresponsible homeowners. And it will allow us work with our partners to better target some of the major problem areas in the city.

“We’ll also be making sure this new programme provides opportunities for small local builders to carry out refurbishment works, supporting local jobs and growing local supply chains.”

Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Ann O’Byrne, said: “Our work to bring empty properties back into use is having a real impact on our neighbourhoods, and this latest investment will enable us to propel this work further than ever before.

“We will be delivering a range of new projects which will make a further significant dent in the number of vacant properties in the city – from providing financial incentives to property owners, and taking tougher enforcement action against those who fail to co-operate with us, to developing new projects with our social housing partners.

“This new pot of funding means we can take even bigger strides forward in our on-going work to deliver thriving and attractive neighbourhoods, in every part of Liverpool. It’s great news for the city – and it’s great news for small, local builders, who will be able to bid for the refurbishment work.”

The new, £6m programme will complement the range of projects currently taking place to refurbish vacant properties in the city. In Anfield, the city council is working with partners including Your Housing Group to refurbish 550 homes, as part of the wider £260m regeneration plans for the area. Meanwhile, in Granby, a £14m investment from Plus Dane, Liverpool Mutual Homes and community organisations, will bring more than 100 properties back into use by 2017.

On-going work to track down and engage with owners and carry out enforcement action has driven around £1.2m of private sector investment in these properties since 2012.

Registered Providers are also playing their part and have brought forward investment plans to tackle hundreds of long term voids within their own stock.

Meanwhile, the city council’s ‘Homes for a Pound’ pilot is providing an opportunity for first time buyers to purchase homes from the council for a pound and to take on the refurbishment of them. The initial pilot is for 20 homes.