Second phase of grant scheme aimed at getting empty properties back into use is launched

The second phase of a grant scheme aimed at helping property owners and first time buyers getting empty properties back into use has been launched.

The Valleys Taskforce Empty Homes Grant involves grants of up to £20,000 for renovations and up to £5,000 towards energy measures.

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 be located in the Valleys Task Force area of Bridgend and 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 being 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.

At a cabinet meeting on June 30, cabinet members agreed to enter into the second phase of the grant scheme which is due to run until March 2021.

Cabinet member for wellbeing and future generations Dhanisha Patel said: “Empty private sector homes represent a wasted resource and a financial expense both to the owners and the council. In many cases they are also a missed opportunity to provide much-needed affordable housing for residents.

“Over the last couple of years, the council has developed many tools and approaches to encourage empty homes to be brought back into use which have had a positive impact – this grant will further support the delivery of the council’s and Welsh Government’s priority of returning empty properties into use in the Valleys areas of Bridgend county borough, to help regenerate communities, provide more choice and suitable accommodation for residents.”

Council leader Huw David said: “This is very good news, it involves extra investment from Welsh Government in our valleys communities and it is desperately needed.

“There’s often little choice in our valleys communities for some local people who need to be housed – this provides those opportunities as well as helping to removing some of those properties that have blighted our communities for too long, attracting crime and anti-social behaviour.”

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.

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.

For the second phase, the local authority will provide a match funding contribution of 35 percent towards each grant in the Bridgend Valleys Taskforce area based on the number of empty property grants the local authority wishes to support.

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.

For more details on the scheme visit the Welsh Government website on the empty homes grant which includes a link to the Valleys Taskforce area map.

 

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