St Helens Council has vowed to continue using its power to bring empty properties causing a ‘detriment to the wider neighbourhood’ back into use.

The Labour-run authority is reminding residents and empty homeowners during a national campaign of the help and support on offer to ensure they make the most of their property

Running until March 6, National Empty Homes Week is an initiative by the Empty Homes Agency, aimed at raising awareness of the potential of empty homes to meet housing need, as well as devise and promote sustainable solutions that will bring them back into use.

Between 2017-21, a total of 360 properties in St Helens borough have been brought back into use, and with "creating communities" a key part of a new draft housing strategy for 2022-27, the council has vowed to work with owners of vacant properties to improve the quality of their properties, enforcing powers against non-compliant landlords.

'A wasted resource'

Cllr Jeanie Bell, the council’s cabinet member for safer, stronger, communities, said: “Empty homes are a wasted resource and those that have stood vacant for a long time and fallen into disrepair can become a focus for anti-social behaviour, arson and nuisance which impacts the immediate street and neighbourhood.

“Our proactive response to this challenge has resulted in hundreds of empty properties being brought back into use over the years and we will continue to use our powers and all of the tools available to prioritise the empty properties that cause a detriment to the wider neighbourhood.

“The council will always try to negotiate with owners, offering advice and support where appropriate. This can range from information on VAT relief, to putting owners in touch with potential renters or purchasers.

“Our new strategy – which sets out our priorities for housing over the next five years – is our statement of intent, which we have developed around the theme of ‘quality and accessible homes for all’ – whether its quality in the new homes that we build or existing homes so that residents have the opportunity to live in a home that meets our needs and aspirations for a better borough.”