Empty Norwich homes brought back into use

Sarah HallTwo homes which neighbours blasted as eyesores after they stood empty for almost two decades are back in use - after council bosses made use of pioneering powers.Sarah Hall

Two homes which neighbours blasted as eyesores after they stood empty for almost two decades are back in use - after council bosses made use of pioneering powers.

People moved into the houses in Cyprus Street, in Lakenham, last month after Norwich City Council made use of legislation, which led to the homes being renovated.

Three years ago the homes were highlighted in the Evening News, with the late Hereward Cooke, then city councillor for Lakenham ward, calling for action.

Using new powers, Norwich City Council threatened the owner with an Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO) - a power which allows the council to seize homes that have been unoccupied for six months or more, where the owner is not intending to re occupy it.

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It enables the council to carry out works to make the property fit to occupy and it can also let the property.

That threat led the owner, Kelvin Jermy, to instead take a grant from the city council to fix up the homes so he could rent them out to people on the city council's waiting list.

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Despite his initial reservations, Mr Jermy is pleased the city council put pressure on him and wrote to City Hall to say: 'Thank you very much for all your shoving and pushing. It's a nice feeling that I will receive some money together with the fact that two families have somewhere nice to live and the neighbours now have very nicely presented properties next door.

'Whilst it wasn't at the time always appreciated, I can say without reservation that I'm very pleased that you dragged me along.'

Mark Siddall, sub-regional empty homes project officer at Norwich City Council, said: 'It is good news that we have been able to bring the properties back into use and to prevent the homelessness of two families.

'The properties have been brought from a state of being bare shells, with props supporting them internally where load bearing walls had been removed 15 odd years ago, to being excellent family homes.

'They are completely refitted throughout with particular attention being paid to energy efficiency.

'Where the floors were taken up, under floor insulation was fitted in addition to solid wall insulation, double glazing and loft insulation, and finished off with A-rated boilers.'

In February it emerged more than 500 private homes in Norwich had been standing empty for more than six months, with some 9,600 people waiting on lists to get council homes.

But Norwich City Council has been one of the most successful in the country at using the threat of EDMOs and the offer of grants to get empty homes back into use.

Have you been trying to get an empty home near you brought back into use? Call Evening News reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

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