Derelict homes receive £91m injection
The funding will be spent on refurbishment in areas where empty properties have commonly led to problems such as squatting, rat infestation and collapsing house prices, driving remaining residents away.
Foster said: “The government is doing everything possible to tackle the problem of empty homes and urban blight. Today I’m announcing we’re going to do even more with towns across England benefiting from £91m to refurbish over 6,000 empty properties to get them back into use.
“This will bring people, shops and jobs back to once abandoned areas, and provide extra affordable homes we so badly need.”
The minister said the department has already made very good progress cutting the number of long term empty homes by 40,000 but it needed to go further to satisfy the demand of thousands of people in the country desperate to buy a home.
The funding is being allocated under two programmes.
The first is a tranche of £61m from the second round of the empty homes funding programme provided to successful bidders eligible from all areas across England, except London which will be announced separately, with empty homes.
Two thirds of this fund is allocated by the Homes and Communities Agency to registered social landlords and the remaining money to community and voluntary groups.
Together the 187 successful organisations will bring around 3,200 extra homes back into use.
The second tranche is a £30m second year award of the Clusters of Empty Homes programme funding for twenty partnerships in areas of acute problems such as Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Middlesbrough which will bring around 3,500 homes back into use.
The North of England will receive £33m of the empty homes programme funding with a further £11m for the Midlands.
Andy Rose, HCA chief executive, said: “We had a very encouraging response to the funding across a wide range of types of property. This demonstrates a strong appetite and scope for bringing empty homes and properties back into use which will help to reinvigorate our communities and towns.
“We look forward to working with housing providers to bring these homes forward.”
Foster has also called on councils to sign up to TV presenter and restoration expert George Clarke’s 10 point review for housing regeneration areas.
The review supports “sweat equity schemes” whereby people buy empty properties for a nominal price in exchange for an undertaking to refurbish them.
The review also backs the government’s stance that demolition of properties should only ever be a last resort.
The government has already invested £130m to refurbish up to 11,500 empty homes since 2010. This includes £100m to bring empty property back as affordable housing and the first clusters of empty homes programme investment of £30m.