Demolition of properties gets go-ahead

A flat in Leyland Lane, Leyland, has been empty for more than 10 years and has become subject to vandalism
A flat in Leyland Lane, Leyland, has been empty for more than 10 years and has become subject to vandalism

Derelict Leyland properties causing problems for neighbours with issues such as vandalism, squatters and anti-social behaviour can now be demolished by the council.

A new Empty Properties policy was last week approved by South Ribble Council’s cabinet committee, in a bid to crack down on landlords of homes which have been deserted.

The policy, which came into effect as soon as it was rubber-stamped by the committee on Wednesday, now allows the council to take strict enforcement action against landlords who are not prepared to bring the properties back into use.

Drastic steps which are now available to the council to deal with properties empty for more than six years include:

- Securing a property that is open to access

- Requiring an owner to make a property safe or allow emergency action to be taken to make it safe

- Addressing any unsightly external appearances

- And demolishing a property that cannot be satisfactorily repaired.

Speaking at the meeting in support of the document, Coun Cliff Hughes, cabinet member for strategic planning and housing at the council, said: “The problem of empty properties is tied in with our homelessness strategy as well.

“This policy enables us to take action to tackle the social issues which come with living next door to an empty home.”

The estimated number of empty domestic properties in South Ribble in November last year was 1,030.

Of these, approximately 456 properties had been empty for more than six months, and 13 had been derelict for more than 10 years.

A special Empty Homes Project Group, made up of council officers, will determine what action is most appropriate for a specific property, and a number of steps must be taken before a final decision is made.

Properties which have been empty for more than a year will be assessed and placed onto a ‘empty homes priority list’ with enforcement action then being taken on the ‘worst’ properties.

The first step the council must take in each instance is to contact the landlord or owner to offer advice and support to those wishing to bring their properties back into use, providing information on repairs, grants and loans assistance and letting a property.

Only if this fails to have a positive outcome will enforcement action be considered.

Once the owner or landlord has been advised of the council’s intention to take enforcement action, there will be a period during which they can appeal against the decision.

Other actions available to the council include making a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO), an enforced sale, or an Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO).

- For more on this story, see this week’s Leyland Guardian.