THE borough council is "working hard" with the owner of a derelict Charlton Road home to secure a sale – but is prepared to make a compulsory purchase order (CPO) if necessary.

The house at 91 Charlton Road has long stood empty, with some residents estimating it has remained unused for more than 20 years.

Concerns have been raised concerns over the ‘detrimental effects’ the house has had on neighbours, amid reports of damp, mould, rats and overgrowth affecting nearby homes, as well as anti-social behaviour and break-ins at the property.

In March 2019, after hundreds signed a petition calling for tougher action, the borough council said it was “working actively” to support the owner to make a sale.

Now Test Valley Borough Council has confirmed it is "preparing evidence with a view to making a CPO". This would legally allow the authority to obtain the property without the need for the owner’s consent.

The authority will not, however, be compensating neighbours for any issues caused by the house and the state it has fallen into.

The issue was recently raised by Reverend Andy Fitchet in a letter to the borough council.

Responding in a letter shared with the Advertiser, the council’s cabinet member for housing and environmental health, Councillor Phil Bundy, said: “We have been working hard to engage with the owner of 91 Charlton Road, and note that in your letter you reference you are aware that the property is in the process of being sold.

“This is something we are actively encouraging the owner to progress as a matter of urgency. It is our understanding that the prospective purchaser intends to renovate the property to bring it back into use as accommodation.”

Cllr Bundy expressed that the council’s preference is for “the property to be brought back into use through a private sale”.

He continued: “In the meantime, the council is continuing to make every effort to work with the owner, whilst we are preparing evidence with a view to making a compulsory purchase order (CPO) and then submitting it to the Secretary of State for confirmation.”

Progress on this front has been slowed due to the Covid-19 outbreak, but Cllr Bundy added: “It is difficult to put a timescale on any CPO action. However, please be aware that the council is minded to make a CPO and to apply for its confirmation as quickly as possible in the event the sale does not progress.”

He also notes that the council “is not under any obligation to offer compensation” to those in neighbouring properties affected by damp or mould issues, and that the authority “does not intend to do so”.

He added: “If there are neighbours who feel they should be entitled to compensation, however, this would be a matter for them to pursue with the current owner.”