Eleven empty homes were brought back into use every month last year, as part of an ongoing campaign by Bedford Borough Council.
In the 12 months up to April 2019, 134 properties were brought back into use following council intervention.
And the number of homes which have been empty for over five years have fallen from 143 to 97.
Success stories have included the creation of two modern, semi-detached bungalows in Sharnbrook where the previous property had stood empty for seven years and had become a derelict eyesore. The two new properties have now been developed and marketed by ASKWilson Builders, and are expected to be occupied soon.
Meanwhile eight council properties have also been refurbished and are being brought back into use as housing. One of these is East Lodge within Bedford Park, which was occupied by a parks employee until December. Since that time, works have been carried out to fully refurbish the property and it is set to be a new family home. The net proceeds from the rent will be used to help fund the future upkeep of the park.
In recent years, nearly £3million has been allocated to tackle long-term empty homes to fund the compulsory purchase of properties, which is the last resort after all attempts to work with the owner have proved unsuccessful.
Cllr Colleen Atkins, portfolio holder for housing, said “We are proactive about getting long-term empty homes back into use, improving our local communities and providing much-needed housing locally. It is extremely pleasing to hear these success stories, both out in the villages and in the heart of Bedford.
“This Empty Homes Week, take action on an empty home; if you have a long-term empty property or know of one please get in touch.”
Individuals and local communities can support the council’s efforts to bring empty homes back into use by reporting empty properties to the housing strategy team via www.bedford.gov.uk/emptyhomes
If you have an empty property and would like advice on bringing it back into use, contact the housing strategy team on (01234) 718581 or email email@example.com