Nearly 200 homes in North Somerset are empty – and 26 have been vacant for two years or more
PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 January 2018
Close to 200 homes in North Somerset have been empty for six months or more while there is a housing shortage.
The number of vacant homes in the district has been described as a ‘scandal’ by one North Somerset councillor.
A freedom of information request submitted to North Somerset Council by the Liberal Democrats showed 185 homes across North Somerset have been empty for six months or more.
This is an improvement from seven years ago when 372 homes were unoccupied.
However, 26 houses have been empty for two years or more, six for five years or more and one for longer than 10 years.
Councillor Mike Bell, leader of the LibDem group on the council, 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.
This has already happened in Worle, where the council bought a home in High Street through a compulsory purchase order.
The house had been empty since the mid-1980s.
Another home in Long Ashton has been neglected since the 1950s.
Thousands of new homes are planned for North Somerset, both through its own policies and the Joint Spatial Plan, which was developed alongside other West of England authorities.
However, the Mercury revealed in August how it would take 21 years to meet the housing targets unless building work accelerated.
The shortage of homes means thousands of people are on waiting lists for social housing, as there are not enough properties to meet demand.
And this trend could be set to continue, as North Somerset has been falling short of affordable housing targets. In 2016, only one in five of the affordable homes which needed to be built that year were completed.
The LibDems’ data showed across the UK, 60,000 homes have been empty for two or more years.