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MP urges action over empty properties – Wrexham Council say it is being pro-active

Wrexham’s MP has called on Wrexham Council to do more in tackling the issue of empty houses in the area, with the local authority stating they are taking enforcement action where ‘appropriate’.

MP Ian Lucas spoke out after visiting two separate properties in Wrexham last week. Despite being several miles apart, in Little Acton and in Summerhill, both properties are causing similar problems for nearby residents.

Both properties, despite having owners, have been left empty for years and have issues with overgrown gardens, animals and birds, and are unsightly for local residents.

Last month we reported on and live tweeted from a council meeting that revealed the latest empty property figures. In total there are 457 properties across the county that have been empty for six months or longer, therefore being classed as ’empty properties’.

Of these 419 have been in the private sector with the remaining 38 in Wrexham Council’s own social housing stock. Obviously, and thankfully, not all are in the condition as outlined by Mr Lucas.

Mr Lucas has raised concerns about the properties with Wrexham Council and says ‘limited amounts of action’ have been taken as a result.

Mr Lucas has said that the council should use proper enforcement action to take over the properties and similar ones across Wrexham. He said: “I do have some sympathy for the council as taking action to enforce these issues is not always straightforward.

“However, I also have a great deal of sympathy for those residents who have to live next door to these properties. When I visited Cavendish Square in Little Acton, for example, residents told me they had been pushing for action for ten years.

“That pattern repeats in villages across the constituency and I believe it is wrong that we have so many empty properties when they could be put to use. There are enforcement powers, and the council can take action. When they have – such as their recent work improving properties in Foster Road in Rhosddu – I have praised that work.

“That property is now no longer derelict, and recently went on sale on the open market. The council’s success there could be replicated in places like Cavendish Square – and right across the town.”

Councillor David Griffiths, Wrexham Council’s Lead member for Housing told us: “We welcome Ian Lucas’s ongoing interest in bringing long term empty properties back into use and appreciate the recognition from Mr Lucas of the recent successes in enabling a number of long term empty properties back into use.

“The work on these properties has not only benefited the home owners themselves but neighbours, the wider community and the local economy. These successes show what can be achieved when working on partnership with owners and other stakeholders, including in two recent cases, the Crown. However, each empty property is different according to the issues they, and what action can be taken.

“With regards to Mr Lucas’s request that the Council use enforcement action, the Council pro-actively threatens or will use enforcement action to address issues with both occupied and empty properties as appropriate. Officers from a number of departments work tirelessly to address issues and in most cases, this will be enough to ensure necessary works are carried out.

“Any enforcement action can only be used within the limitations of the relevant legislation. Enforcement action against empty properties relies mainly on legislation relating to Planning, Building Control and Environmental Health. These relate to specific areas of concern including as examples, issues with rats and mice, properties being open to access, and unsafe structures. The Council must therefore be both mindful of the relevant legislation when considering enforcement action on any property.

“The Council are currently looking at a number of options to address issues with some long term empty properties; these include the use of Enforced Sale, Empty Dwelling Management Orders and in extreme cases may include the use of Compulsory Purchase Orders. All these are subject to limitations based on the relevant legislation.”

Top pic: Mr Lucas pictured outside the Cavendish Square property with, from left, Elizabeth Cope-Davies, Denise Roberts and Betty Williams.

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