A HOUSE badly damaged in an arson attack could be bought up by Blackburn with Darwen Council.

The house at 18 Cobden Street, Darwen, was left in extremely poor condition following the attack in January last year.

The boarded-up number 20 was found to contain a small cannabis farm while the interior and exterior of number 16, belonging to Luke Slomka, was badly affected by the flames and smoke.

The 44-year-old’s insurers paid out £32,000 to carry out extensive repairs to his house but are declining to do further work until the gutted property next door is made waterproof.

And following unsuccessful negotiations with the owner to get number 18 back up to scratch, council bosses have begun the process of buying the house using compulsory purchase order powers.

Executive member for growth and development, Cllr Phil Riley, said: “Currently, the windows to the majority of the property are unglazed and un-boarded, leaving the property open to the elements.

“The roof is in severe disrepair and a temporary covering is in place.

"The rear yard is open to access, however it is inaccessible as it is full of building materials and fire-damaged waste from the property.

“Internally, the property is also in a poor state of repair due to large amounts of building materials and fire-damaged waste.

“Numerous complaints have been received in relation to the condition of the property from councillors and local residents, who have expressed concern about the nuisance that the property is causing to the local neighbourhood.”

People have complained about water leaking into neighbouring homes, fly-tipping, building materials and scaffolding blocking the public footpath.

The general condition of the building and the fact it continues to remain empty and open to access has also been the subject of complaints.

Cllr Riley added: “In November, the council wrote to the owner to advise him that as work had not started to refurbish the property, council approval would be sought to proceed to make a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO).

“The owner telephoned the office to give his assurances that works would commence shortly and it was agreed that enforcement action would be delayed to enable him to commence the required works with progress being reviewed in the second week of January.

“That progress review has not satisfied officers that works will be completed in a timely manner and it is, therefore, recommended that approval to move to CPO is given as a last resort."