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City Council acts to tackle untidy empty homes in Worcester

50 Somers Road tidying up work underway 50 Somers Road tidying up work underway

Worcester City Council has taken action to tidy up four empty and neglected properties in the city over the past 12 months.

The work has included the removal of household waste the and the clearance of very overgrown gardens, in an effort to prevent the houses becoming a blight on their neighbourhoods.

Using its planning powers, the Council has then invoiced the owners of the property. If that charge is not paid the Council has the power to take steps to reclaim the costs from the owners.

One of the properties targeted was No. 50 Somers Road where the garden had become so overgrown that it was having an impact on neighbours. The house itself was barely visible because of the overgrown hedges and trees.

The Council had to serve a tidy-up notice on the property itself, as the owner could not be traced. Experts were brought in to tackle the garden and bring it to an acceptable state.

At another property in Kilbury Drive, the City Council used its powers both to tidy up the front and rear gardens, and also to remove a vandalised car that was standing in the driveway. Once again, action was launched to reclaim the costs from the landowner.

In 2018 the City Council also used its powers to bring about the enforced sale of No. 25 Somers Rd, which had been empty for several years and the subject of several legal actions to improve its structure and appearance. In 2019 it was sold and then fully refurbished. It is now in use for its original purpose, providing a home to Worcester residents.

These details are being published as part of a campaign to highlight the issues caused by empty homes as part of the National Empty Homes Week, which runs until 6 March.

Cllr James Stanley, Chair of the City Council's Communities Committee, said: "Empty and neglected homes can have a big impact on the lives of city residents, dragging down the image of an area and potentially becoming a target for vandalism and fly-tipping.

"I am very pleased that the City Council has been able to take action against some of these homes and help to avoid them becoming a blight on their neighbourhoods. I want to encourage residents who know of other untidy, empty properties to let us have the details at www.worcester.gov.uk/report-it."

The City Council monitors empty properties in the city. Many are empty because they are in probate, between tenancies or are being refurbished, so it is only when they have been empty for two years that the owners are contacted and the condition of the building is assessed.

Of the current 179 Worcester homes that have been empty for two years or more, just 15 are considered to be in a dilapidated state. The City Council is trying to work with the owners to bring all 179 properties back into use.

The City Council will also double the Council Tax charge for a property that has been empty and unfurnished for two years or more, in an effort to encourage owners to take action. The charge can increase further if a property remains empty for five or even ten years.

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