Empty homes falling in Burnley but still near national high

Empty homes are an issue in Burnley
Empty homes are an issue in Burnley
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The number of empty homes in Burnley is decreasing rapidly, but more work still needs to be done with the borough ranked second in the country when it comes to the number of vacant homes per head of population.

Burnley is making progress to drive down the number of empty properties in the borough with the figure dropping by almost a third in the last six years.

Coun. John Harbour

Coun. John Harbour

In 2010 the Burnley borough’s empty homes blight stood at 1,535 properties with large areas of empty homes concentrated in a number of wards in the area.

Since then, a concerted effort to replace a decaying housing stock with modern homes has taken place across areas such as Burnley Wood, Accrington Road and Barden Lane.

But figures released by the BBC data unit suggest that despite making progress there is still some way to go to replace poor housing stock.

In 2016 the number of empty properties had reduced to 1,115 – a drop of 27%.

Coun. John Harbour, executive member for housing and environment, said: “Although these figures are encouraging and show we are making some progress, the truth is that we need the support of Government to really turn things round.

“Here in Burnley, like many towns in East Lancashire, we continue to face the challenge of rebalancing our housing market so that it reflects the needs and aspirations of our residents today.

“The Government has to recognise that our problems here in Pennine Lancashire are very different to the ones in the south of the country.”

A Burnley Council spokesman added: “Our empty homes programme has seen mainly long-term empty properties renovated and transformed into homes fit for families again. It’s not a complete solution but it is making a real, positive difference to communities across our borough.

“Burnley Council is committed to improving our neighbourhoods. If the council didn’t step in these properties would fall further into disrepair.

“This could attract anti-social behaviour, flytipping and arson – all problems that cause misery to local residents.

“The empty homes programme means houses like these can be renovated and become homes again, helping making the surrounding area more desirable.

“We’ve also introduced policies, through the council tax system, to encourage private landlords to bring properties that are more than two years old back into use.

“We are also working with landlords, under the selective licensing scheme, encouraging and supporting them to properly manage their properties so they are fit for tenants and are being used rather than becoming empty.”