WORK is continuing to tackle hundreds of empty homes in Nelson.

Councillors will hear of progress in limiting the number of empty homes in the ward, which currently stands at 261 – with 39 of them empty for more than six months.

In a report to go before Pendle Council’s Nelson committee next week, environmental health manager Paul Lloyd said: “Even though overall numbers are low there are a number of vacant houses in the area that are considered to be a priority and require action to bring them back into use and we are targeting these and in appropriate cases seeking to use compulsory purchase powers to bring them back into use.

“The policy and resources committee at its meeting on September 19 approved the use of compulsory purchase powers to enable the council to acquire 24 Norfolk Street, Nelson, so that it can be brought back into use.

“The legal team are currently preparing the file to send to the Secretary of State.

“We are continuing to work towards the compulsory purchase of 32 Rhoda Street.

"However, the owner has now come forward and we are working with her to ensure that the property is returned into occupation.

“A report is being submitted to the policy and resources committee regarding the fire damaged property on Leeds Road in Nelson.

“The empty homes officers from the environmental health residential team is constantly monitoring the properties and in contact with the owners and they are being encouraged to bring the property back into use.

“Where owners inform us of their intention to renovate the property we offer loan assistance and monitor the house to ensure that the renovations proceed and do not stall.

“The empty property loan scheme is available to all owners of empty properties across the borough.

"However we are finding that when we have provided schedules of work properties are being improved and the financial assistance is not being taken up.

“Whilst 474 properties have been reoccupied in the last nine months and overall numbers have fallen there is still a high turnover of propertied which are left empty for over six months, explaining the discrepancy between the numbers brought back into use and the overall reduction in empty properties.”

Over the borough the total number of properties that have been empty for more than six months has decreased from 758 in July 2019 to 678 in January 2020 - a reduction of 80 properties.

This represents a vacancy rate of 1.73 per cent.