Cabinet to discuss plans for second phase of grant scheme aimed at getting empty properties back into use

Bridgend County Borough Council’s (BCBC) Cabinet will discuss next week the second phase of a grant scheme aimed at helping property owners and first time buyers getting empty properties back into use.

At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, June 30, cabinet members will be asked to enter into the second phase of the Valleys Task Force Empty Homes Grant Scheme which is due to run until March 2021.

Welsh Government has awarded funding of £4.5m for the second phase to Rhondda Cynon Taf Council which delivers and manages the scheme for the area.

Cabinet members will be asked to agree a match funding contribution of 35% towards each grant in the Bridgend Valleys Taskforce area based on the number of empty property grants the local authority wishes to support. The grant award is up to a maximum of £25,000 which includes £5,000 for energy efficiency improvements.

The first phase of empty homes scheme which was run as a pilot took place between October 2019 and March 2020. In Bridgend county borough, there were eight successful applications. No financial contribution was made by BCBC for this phase of the scheme.

To be eligible for the scheme, applicants must meet certain criteria such as being owners or prospective owners who intend to occupy the empty home as their main residence for a minimum five-year period from the date of the certification of grant aided work. The property must also have remained unoccupied for a period of six months prior to purchase and at the time of the grant application.

As part of the second phase, eligibility for the scheme is due to be extended to registered social landlords to allow the grant to be used for empty properties being brought back into use for social housing.

Applicants will be required to make a mandatory contribution of 15 percent of the total cost of eligible works. However the mandatory contribution will be waived for applicants in financial hardship.

As part of the Medium Term Financial Strategy approved by the council in February 2020, match funding of £105,000 was included within the capital programme towards the second phase, enabling total grant approvals of up to £300,000 for home owners within the Valleys Taskforce Area of Bridgend.

The report will be discussed by Cabinet on June 30.