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Leading empty homes boss visits South Lakeland

18 January 2016

The boss of a national charity that works to bring empty homes back into use for people in housing need attended Cumbria’s empty property meeting yesterday (Tuesday).

Helen Williams, Chief Executive of the Empty Homes Agency (EHA), visited the meeting for a discussion with members about empty homes and to talk about issues they are facing.

Empty property representatives from across the county attended the meeting, which was chaired by us at Kendal Town Hall.

Our Empty Homes Officer, Lynne Leach, said: “I’d like to thank Helen for visiting our meeting. It was a fantastic opportunity to help the EHA understand the local empty homes issues in the area.

“We’ve been helping local empty homeowners in South Lakeland to bring their homes back into use in lots of different ways. To receive this support from a national body like the EHA can only help us do even better empty homes work in the future.”

The EHA’s visit was partly due to the great response from Cumbrian authorities to a recent survey the organisation issued to local councils in England.

The charity has also followed empty homes work in the area after Lynne was awarded empty homes practitioner of the year in 2016.

Our Housing and Innovation portfolio holder, Councillor Jonathan Brook, added: “Empty homes are a blight on any community.

“In South Lakeland we have unique pressures on the availability of affordable housing for local people and the effects of empty homes are particularly bad.

“There can be valid reasons for homes to be empty such as a family bereavement or illness, howev
er, the council wants to encourage empty homes to be occupied as quickly as possible.

“We have an excellent track record, but we recognise there is more we can do. That’s why we are delighted to have hosted this meeting and to hear from experts about remaining at the forefront of the battle to reduce the numbers of long-term empty homes in our area.

“By 2025, SLDC have an ambitious plan to reduce the number of empty homes by 20%.”

In South Lakeland there are approximately 950 long-term empty homes, which represents around 2% of the 52,000 homes in the district.

The EHA is a charity based in London that was established in 1992 to try to ensure that more empty properties were brought back into use for people who are in housing need, and to help sustain communities by making better use of existing housing stock.

Since its formation the organisation has built a reputation as a campaigning charity, but also in developing practical ideas on how to bring empty homes back into use.

If you are concerned about an empty home in your neighbourhood, please get in touch with our Empty Homes Officer on 01539 793375 or via email lynne.leach@southlakeland.gov.uk.