One of Bury Labour’s Manifesto commitments is to deliver more affordable housing and a key part of this relates to bringing back into use the many empty properties across the Borough in private ownership.
Bury is currently ranked 6th (out of 10) within the GM area for the percentage of empty homes in its area, compared to the total number of homes. The total in Bury is 2484 but this does include all empty properties under 6 months and those which are second homes or given an exemption to being empty. This means the number includes properties being left empty for a time during moves or repair works, and even newly built homes awaiting their first occupiers.
The Council tracks the number and distribution of empty residential properties through its Urban Renewal Section and they have several projects and programmes to tackle empty properties. These include:
concentrating resources on those which are empty for over 6 months, and in particular those that are empty for over 2 years; those which are causing the most negative impact; those where action to tackle them will bring about the greatest impact.
Over the last few years the Council have:
Used Compulsory Purchased;
Used Demolition Order powers;
Made Voluntary Acquisitions;
Engaged with Owners;
There has been significant progress made in Bury regarding the total number of private sector empty properties that have been empty for 6 months and over. This has reduced over the last few years, largely as a result of the 150% Council Tax Levy on empty properties, and the results can be seen below:
Number of empty properties over 6 months
2013 – 1926 properties
2018 – 973 properties
Cllr Eamonn O’Brien, Cabinet Member for Finance and Housing, welcomed the progress on this issue, saying: “It is increasingly hard for us to ensure new affordable housing is built across the Borough, and with a growing homelessness crisis it is a scandal to have empty properties sitting there in the private sector. We are using a variety of methods to bring these empty properties back into use – and affordable use importantly – and the impact of this work is clear to see from the figures. We hope to see even more empty properties being filled over the next few years.”