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How Pendle is tackling the blight of empty homes

Published: Thursday, 26th September 2019

Jake Piergies, Pendle Council's Empty Homes Officer

Jake Piergies, Pendle Council's Empty Homes Officer.

“It’s national Empty Homes Week 23 - 29 Sept and we’re urging landlords and owners of long term empty properties to bring them back into use,” said Pendle Council Leader, Councillor Mohammed Iqbal.

“We have an Empty Homes Loan Scheme and it can make all the difference in supporting property owners to bring vacant homes back to a good standard for local people to live in,” he said.

“And if there’s a long term empty property in your neighbourhood, please get in touch to see if we can take steps to tackle the problem,” he said.

Jake Piergies is Pendle Council’s Empty Homes Officer.  He explained:

“We offer a loan of up to £15,000 which is interest free if re-paid over 3 years.

“It’s a good deal, but it’s not a free handout – it’s a loan which must be re-paid,” he stated.

Loans are based on an 80/20% split, with Pendle Council paying the largest share in a bid to bring more empty homes back into use. 

“If the cost of renovating an empty house is £10,000 we could loan £8,000 and the owner would have to put in £2,000,” he explained.

“If the owner doesn’t complete the renovations within five years we charge interest on our loan,” he added.

People wanting to see if they are eligible for a loan or to ask Pendle Council to tackle a long-term empty home in their area can email:

Councillor Iqbal said:
“Two years ago we decided to take a tougher line to sort out the problem of long term empty homes which were an eye-sore and having a bad impact on their neighbourhoods.

“We started using Compulsory Purchase Orders to buy houses which had lain empty for a long time and this is a rolling programme we are still working on.

“Having a dedicated Empty Homes Officer has made a big difference and Jake Piergies works with property owners, landlords and solicitors to take action on empty homes.

“Over the last nine years the number of empty homes in Pendle has reduced from well over 2,000 to 785 long term empty properties.
Councillor Iqbal added:

“Pendle’s empty property vacancy rate is now below the national average and previously it was above it.   
“And we are below the North West average, too.

“It takes a lot of time and effort to get properties back into use, especially if the owner has died.  It’s a lengthy and difficult process at times!

“Pendle Council is one of the best councils in the North West for dealing with this problem and we will continue to tackle the blight of empty homes whilst creating decent homes for people to live in,” he stated.

Recent success stories include improving a block of four derelict properties in Nelson one of which had suffered fire damage.
And some run down terraces on Cambridge Street in Brierfield have been transformed.
Jake added:

“There was a property on Fir Street, Nelson, that had been empty for years with pigeons living in it, with their droppings leaking into the next property!

“We carried out a cleaning operation and now the property is sold to a neighbour and he has renovated it and made it into his home,” said Jake.  

National Empty Homes Week is from Monday 23rd September 2019 until Sunday 29th September 2019