Since she was first elected in 2011 Cllr Diane Hoy has been keen to see empty homes brought back into use.
As she walks around Hullbridge (the Ward she represents) Diane makes a note of all those which appear empty and reports them to the Council. However she has so far been disappointed in the progress by the council in making those homes available to the public, either to rent or to buy.
We have obtained the figures for empty homes in the Rochford District. They are set out below.
Total no. of empty properties: 1,021
Properties empty for over 6 months: 575
Properties empty for over 1 year: 375
This is particularly important as the housing that the District is being made to build (such as the 500 for Hullbridge) are based on how much affordable housing the district needs and the total of 3,800 (approx) is extrapolated from that. If the 375 homes empty for more than a year were brought into the affordable market it would mean 1,000 fewer properties having to be built under the Core Strategy. The 575 empty for more than six months would mean over 1,600 fewer houses.
Under legislation Rochford District Council could, through a Private Sector Lettings Scheme (PSLS) such as that run by Norwich City Council, make these available to those on the Districts housing register as affordable housing. Alternatively an Empty Dwelling Management Order may be taken out by the council, a more drastic version of the Private Sector Letting Scheme.
As a further point; by bringing those properties into occupation the Council would be eligible for New Homes Bonus on them for 6 years, based on the extra council tax received, potentially around £550,000 a year for 6 years! This is another example of how the District Council is not fulfilling its function fully or even properly on behalf of residents.