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£15m boost to Bradford Council from recycling homes
7:00am Friday 28th September 2012 in News
Bradford has been hailed a top performer in a national scheme to bring empty council homes back into use after figures revealed that nearly 2,000 abandoned properties across the district have been brought back to life.
The Government launched the New Homes Bonus project two years ago with the promise of matching the Council Tax any local authority would get from either newly-built houses or refurbished derelict ones in its housing stock.
As a result of Bradford’s successful use of the scheme, which saw it gain third place nationwide in terms of recycling empty homes, the city will net some £15 million over the next six years.
The latest figures are a major boost to the Telegraph & Argus’s Save Our Green Spaces campaign, which aims to recycle derelict houses and brownfield sites to prevent further building on greenfield sites. Late last year, the T&A handed a dossier mapping empty homes and derelict sites across the district to Bradford Council.
Last night, Councillor Val Slater , the Council’s portfolio holder with responsibility for housing and planning, said housing chiefs in the district had managed to save putting pressure on greenfield sites.
She said: “We were one of the councils first to realise that the New Homes Bonus Scheme applied not only to every new house built, but also to every empty house brought back into use, which has always been one of our priorities.
“The Empty Homes Team have been very creative and innovative in making this and it’s all been about recycling resources, which they’ve done to great success.”
Communities Minister Don Foster revealed yesterday that Bradford had recovered 1,944 empty properties over the past two years.
Other high performers in Yorkshire and Humberside region include Wakefield with 877, Leeds with 609, Calderdale with 554 and Hull with 419.
The top five local authorities that have seen the biggest reduction in empty homes are: Birmingham with 2,151 empty homes back into use; Manchester with 2,118; Bradford with 1,944; Liverpool with 1,855; Salford with 1,582.
On the release of the figures, Don Foster said: “This information, shown in this way for the first time, lets people see how their councils are embracing the New Homes Bonus by examining their empty housing stock and turning it back into use.
“I’m delighted we’ve had such a positive start and encourage all councils to work hard in transforming empty properties, which drag down neighbourhoods, and instead turn them into homes fit for families.
“By making councils accountable to their residents, not to Whitehall, we are ensuring local taxpayers have the ability to check that money is being spent efficiently and decisions taken for the benefit of the communities they serve.”
The Government’s innovative New Homes Bonus scheme rewards councils who increase their housing stock, either by building new homes or converting empty properties back into use, by match funding the additional council tax raised, with an additional amount for affordable homes, for the following six years.
This has meant that communities are seeing the benefits of growth for the first time – in stark contrast to the previous, top-down system of regional housing targets which ministers argue pitted neighbourhoods against developers.