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Hyndburn still in UK's top 10 for empty homes - despite drop since 2012

Figures show 710 homes and 782 commercial properties in the borough are empty

Before and after pictures of the £15m housing redevelopment in Woodnook, Accrington

Council bosses have defended their housing record after Hyndburn was ranked as one of the worst areas in the country for long-term empty properties.

The borough has the eighth highest number of empty homes in the UK, with 710 empty properties.

However, this number has dropped by over 40 per cent from 1,192 in 2010, according to government figures.

Hyndburn was joined in the top 10 by other East Lancashire authorities, with Burnley ranked second, Blackburn with Darwen third and Pendle fifth.

Figures obtained by the Observer also show that there are 782 empty commercial properties, and this number has fallen every year from 945 in 2012.

Councillors Clare Cleary and Tony Dobson

Coun Clare Cleary, Hyndburn council’s cabinet member for housing, said measures taken since 2010 have had a ‘significant impact in reducing the number of long term empty homes’.

She said: “The announcement does not come as a big surprise because Hyndburn, like other parts of East Lancashire, has some of the oldest, low demand housing in the country.

“Having said that, reducing the number of long term empty homes remains a priority and I’m really pleased that the measures we are taking have had a significant impact in reducing the number of long term empty homes by almost 500 over the last seven years - as evidenced in the announcement.

“It is important that we continue to chip away at this issue and we will do so through enforcement action where appropriate, and through partnerships such as the award winning project in Woodnook with PlaceFirst which has brought back into use over 100 long term empty homes, with a further 23 targeted for 2018”.

Hyndburn Conservative group leader Coun Tony Dobson said the council’s policy of making owners pay 150 per cent council tax on properties empty for more than two years could be dropped to one year to help ‘push the number even lower’.

He added: “We are having this mad rush at the moment to go out and build houses but I do wonder with the Brexit situation and people returning to their homelands, and the amount of empty properties that there are in East Lancashire, whether new house building is as desperate as it may seem?”

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