Plan to crack down on East Devon’s ‘wasted asset’ empty homes


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Owners of 52 empty homes in the Sid Valley could face legal action from East Devon District Council (EDDC) unless they take steps to bring their properties back into use.

Measures in a new strategy to tackle the district’s 467 long-term vacant dwellings include obtaining court orders to sell dilapidated properties and effectively seizing homes through a compulsory purchase.

EDDC bosses are due to consider the authority’s new Empty Homes Plan when they meet this week.

It focuses on working with owners of long-term empty properties to return them to use. But the plan includes enforcement action options, which can be used as a last resort after all other avenues have been exhausted.

In a foreword to the document, Councillor Jill Elson, EDDC’s portfolio holder for sustainable homes, writes: “Empty homes are a wasted asset - especially when there are so many people looking for homes to live in, in East Devon.

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“This new plan builds on these successes and people who own empty properties and do not know what to do with them will be able to access good information and advice about either selling or renting their property.

“Those who have chosen to leave properties to deteriorate and do nothing with them will be pursued and, using the enforcement elements of this policy, it is hoped that the properties will be sold and brought back into use.”

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EDDC’s figures say 43 homes in Sidmouth and Sidford are empty, with an additional nine in the ‘Sidmouth Rural’ area, which includes Sidbury.

Nine are listed as empty in Ottery St Mary, with 11 more listed in the ‘Ottery Rural’ ward, which includes West Hill.

Seven homes are empty in Newton Poppleford, and eight in Beer and Branscombe.

The total is made up of empty properties that are on the market but not sold, homes where the owner has died and relatives are going through the legal process and dwellings that have been intentionally left empty by owners hoping to turn a profit once prices increase.

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