Manchester’s derelict and empty homes to be tackled through £8.5million government boost

By Reece Lawrence

Greater Manchester is receiving almost £8.5million from the government to restore dozens of run-down and derelict houses for residential use.

The funds will target areas where low house prices, squatting and rat infestations have taken hold in a bid to attract new inhabitants.

In Manchester alone £3.25million has been allocated with a further £2.53million going to Salford.

Council chiefs have also set out a home building strategy to deal with an expected population surge in the next 15 years – an increase which will require 55,000 new homes by 2027.

Councillor Jim Battle, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “We need to act now to meet demand for the future and to do this we need to stimulate investment in building and bring empty homes back into use.

“The plan is also about creating financial packages that allows households into owner occupation.”

Salford City Council, declared the third-best local authority in the country at reducing the number of dilapidated dwellings, intends to recycle 110 homes in Eccles and Irlam.

The Empty Homes Agency found that 807 properties were restored in Salford between 2011 and 2012.

The significant sum it has received off the back of an ‘excellent record’ of recovering neglected houses will also go towards helping retailers in these areas restore accommodation above shops.

At the same time, retail premises that are no longer in use could also become residences.

Councillor Gena Merrett, Salford’s Assistant Mayor for Housing, said the money was a clear message regarding the city’s ability to bring empty homes back to full use – and insisted every penny would be of benefit to the community.

She added: “The physical aspect of bringing empty properties back to use is critical to Salford.

“We also want to see communal life return to areas and streets blighted by derelict housing.”

The city centre’s residential growth plans – intended to make Manchester the fastest growing city in the UK – could see 25,000 jobs created in the next three years.

Figures suggest five new employment opportunities are made for every new house built, and the aim is for these homes to provide for a variety of markets and price brackets.

The policy will develop aspects of property management such as creating more affordable mortgage products to encourage home ownership and improving the private rented sector.

The overall government drive, which encompasses both the empty homes programme and the Clusters of Empty Homes initiative, is part of a £91million scheme to refurbish more than 6,000 vacant homes.

Communities Minister Don Foster said: “This will bring people, shops and jobs back to once abandoned areas, and provide extra affordable homes we so badly need.

“We have already made very good progress, cutting the number of long term empty homes by 40,000 but with thousands of people in this country desperate to buy a home and areas still suffering problems of urban blight we must go further still.”

Eight of Greater Manchester’s ten local authorities were apportioned funds in the new budgeting move.

Oldham and Trafford decided not to apply having secured funds in an earlier round of financing.

A Trafford Council spokesperson said: “We are committed to working with our partners Adactus Housing to restore and deliver empty and derelict houses back into use for Trafford families.

“The council did not submit a bid for funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government on this particular occasion because work from previous funding rounds is still ongoing.”

They added that work on future schemes had not been finalised at the time of the deadline for funding applications.

More than half of the empty homes programme capital – £33million – will be pumped into the North of England.

Andy Rose, chief executive of the Homes and Communities Agency, said: “We had a very encouraging response to the funding across a wide range of types of property.”

He also claimed there was a strong appetite for resolving the issue of empty homes.

Since 2010 £130million has been spent on restoring 11,500 homes across the country.

Picture courtesy of Admanchester via Flickr, with thanks

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