Pushing for action over town's empty properties

First published in News

A RESIDENT’S concerns about three Andover houses left empty for years look set to be addressed.

David Atkins says he contacted Test Valley Borough Council about three empty properties more than three years ago.

He said: “Up until December 2009 I received various emails saying that it would be investigated. Three years have now passed with no signs of return to habitation.

“The houses are at Charlton Road – which is severely overgrown – and further down, just north of the Churchill Way over-bridge.”

Test Valley says it is pushing for progress in the situation.

A council spokesman said: “We are aware of the empty homes in Charlton Road and have done all we can over the last few years to bring these properties, owned by others, back into use.

“The borough council has been trying to hasten progress and is expecting an outline planning application from H a m p s h i r e County Council in the new year to redevelop the site of Hillside Villas.

“Councillor Ian Carr, leader of Test Valley Borough Council, is writing to the leader of the county council to ensure the project has the necessary priority at the county to bring the land back into housing use as soon as possible.”

The single overgrown property has been a concern for some time.

The spokesman added: “Test Valley’s environmental health department has tried to engage with the owner on many occasions without success.

“It has been necessary to carry out some work to clear overgrown shrubs and board up the property.

“The council’s legal department will look to recover the costs of this work from the owner.

“It is hoped that this may encourage them to engage in a dialogue with the council so that we can work together to bring the property up to a habitable standard.”

The borough hopes that, if approved by full council in January, the proposed changes to discounts and exemptions for empty homes agreed by Cabinet in November should result in a greater number of properties being placed on the market and help alleviate the current housing shortage.

The changes will make it more expensive to own empty properties.

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