A NEW £9million plan has been drawn up to potentially renovate hundreds of empty homes in Burnley.

Town hall chiefs have confirmed they have lodged a £4.5million ‘expression of interest’ with the government’s new Clusters of Empty Homes project.

An initial decision is due soon on bids for the programme, which is being brought forward by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

Burnley has already had some success this year in tackling the problem of vacant homes and shops.

Sixty-eight properties will be overhauled in the borough alone as part of a £4.8million East Lancashire wide scheme, under another HCA empty homes initiative.

Working in partnership with housing landlords Calico, the 68 homes should be reoccupied over the next three years.

Coun Peter McCann, housing and development control cabinet member, said: “Both these initiatives are clear evidence of the council taking the lead in tackling a major challenge for the borough’s housing strategy.”

Up to £50million is available for the clusters programme. East Lancashire lost a similar amount when the coalition scrapped the housing market renewal scheme last year.

Under the scheme a minimum of 100 homes must be brought into use, in clusters of at least 25 homes. Match funding must be identified by authorities involved.

Around £1.25million has already been spent across the borough as part of this year’s housing clearance work, for vacant blocks.