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Almost 200 homes sit empty and public are ‘disgusted’

PUBLISHED: 13:00 15 January 2018

Almost 200 North Somerset homes have been empty for more than six months. Picture: Mark Atherton

Almost 200 North Somerset homes have been empty for more than six months. Picture: Mark Atherton

Archant

A ‘scandalous’ number of homes in North Somerset have sat empty for more than six months amid a housing shortage which is leaving people living on the streets.

A total of 185 homes have been unoccupied in the district for six months or more, including 26 which have not been used for more than two years.

One house in the area has been left dormant for more than 10 years.

The figures have improved from 2011 when 372 homes were empty.

The data was unearthed after a freedom of information request by the Liberal Democrats.

North Somerset councillor Mike Bell, who is leader of the authority’s LibDem group, said: “At a time when homelessness is growing and we are seeing major pressure to build more homes on greenfield sites across the district, it is a scandal any homes are allowed to sit empty for any significant length of time.”

The council has an empty property delivery plan, which focuses on homes which are unfurnished and have been vacant for more than six months.

The aim is to bring the properties back into use by working with the owners or using enforcement powers when needed.

Many people took to social media to share their view.

Tracy Morris wrote: “My son was classed as homeless and on the council waiting list. He was born in Weston and has lived here all his life. He bid on a property and found it was perfect. Then he got told he couldn’t have it because of debt, which is disgusting.”

Rob Heal commented: “I will never understand while there are so many empty buildings in the town centre, there are so many homeless on our streets.

“Open up the old cop shop, put in a few radiators and blankets, and take away the indignity of their appalling situation.

“What on earth has this council, town and country come to?”

Ricki Burrows said: “There is a shortage of affordable housing not a housing shortage, due to numerous factors.

“One of the main ones being the lack of affordable houses delivered on all new major schemes being well below 30 per cent. However central Government believes if more houses are built prices will fall.

“This clearly is not the case; it just leads to empty homes no-one can afford to buy.”

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