ALMOST 1,000 homes in Caerphilly county have been empty for over a year, according to information obtained by Plaid Cymru.
Around 888 of the county’s 2,874 vacant homes have been empty for more than 12 months, according to a response to a Freedom of Information request by a Plaid supporter, and 1,436 have been vacant for less than six months.
The remaining 550 have been empty for six to 12 months.The figures cover the position at September 26 last year.
Shadow member for housing Councillor Lyn Ackerman, who represents Newbridge ward, said: “With so many people desperate for an affordable home, it is disappointing so many properties are lying empty.
“Vacant homes can blight communities, attracting vandals and affect neighbours who can see the value of their homes devalue if properties are left empty for a long time. I have particular concerns about the number of homes which have been vacant for more than a year.”
Cllr Ackerman said she asked for a report on empty homes and wanted to find out what action was being taken.
According to Shelter, bringing empty homes back to a liveable state costs on average £6,000 to £12,000, said Plaid group leader Cllr Colin Mann.
He said: “With reasonable investment a lot of properties can be brought back into use. With the support of the Welsh Government, these empty homes figures can be reduced.”
The council is now reviewing its housing renewal strategy with the intention of introducing a new one in April.
Plaid claim the council has said this may impact on the availability of certain improvement grants which it offers to owners of empty properties.
These grants are discretionary and are targeted at houses in poor physical condition which have a negative impact on the street. A £15,000 grant is available for homes which have been empty for at least a year.
A spokesperson for Caerphilly Council said: “We are committed to working alongside the owners of empty properties across our county borough, and helping to bring them back into use. While the issue of empty homes is an issue for all local authorities, and the figures for the Caerphilly county borough are comparable to the rest of Wales, We are working actively to reduce the number of empty properties in our county borough and we are currently exceeding our target for this financial year.”