Council members vote in favour of Victorian Mansion to be renovated into student accommodation, despite opposing campaign from residents.Written by Jenny Hughes on 5th February 2016
Birmingham City Council given £3.2m for housing scheme
Birmingham City Council has been given £3
Emply houses as a 'blight'
There are thousands of empty privately-owned homes in the city and the money coming from the Homes and Communities Agency will pay for 190 homes to be renovated and rented out or sold. Of the 8000 empty homes 1900 of them have been so for three years or more. Harborne and Selly Oak, two areas favoured by students, are cited as particularly badly affected.
Landlords had bought houses with the intend to rent out to students, then after finding out there was an over supply and being unable to get tenants, the houses have been left to degrade.
£1.5 million of council money will be added to the HCA grant leading to a total of £4.7million of which long-term empty properties can apply to. The Council Cabinet was told that the empty houses were a blight as the attracted vandalism and littering. It was also suggested they have added to the cities homeless crisis; there are currently 26,000 families waiting for a council property.
1,400 homes brought back to use
The current total of empty properties shows an improvement from the 15,000 which were empty in 2004. The Birmingham Empty Property Team had previously succeeded in bringing over 1,400 homes back into use.
Cabinet member for housing Councillor John Lines said: ‘It’s still a shame we’ve got 8,000 homes lying empty, but it is better than 15,000. We have been given this grant because we proved we can tackle this.’
Council leader Mike Whitby has commented on the danger of landlords abusing the system leading to the use of council money for renovations. However, Councillor Lines has said that they will be relying on local officers to inform them of those worthy of being included in the scheme.
Although nothing has yet to be mentioned of the effect on rent prices within the area and the effect this could have on students improvements within the areas are being received positively.
Zuki Majuqwana,Vice President for Housing and Community said:
‘It is fantastic to see the council making such a significant and much-needed investment to drive up property standards in our student areas. However, this is a proposal I will be keeping a close eye on as there is a small concern surrounding crime given a rise in previously homeless individuals moving into the area. This could lead to a depletion of the housing surplus, causing greater competition and the associated rent rises. It is therefore crucial the Guild is included in the consultation process to ensure this doesn't happen. Having said that, if the council is going to improve standards of properties that will stay in student hands then I applaud them for this and will support them in any way I can to ensure it is carried out in the most responsible and beneficial way possible for students.’