COUNCIL bosses are seeking Government approval for the compulsory purchase of a York house that has been empty for more than 15 years, attracting squatters, vandals and fly-tippers.
City of York Council says it is pursuing the “option of last resort” to bring the property in Bradley Drive, Foxwood, back into use after its owner chose not to accept help from the authority.
Local residents say they are delighted by the decision to apply for a compulsory purchase order (CPO), while some said they were frustrated it had taken so long.
“I’m delighted,” said Joyce Hardy. “It’s been empty for 17 years and it could provide a home for someone else. We tried to get a petition up about it. It has been frustrating, but I gather there is a new law allowing them to do this.”
Another neighbour, David Batey, said: “I’m pleased it’s getting sorted. We have had squatters in there and it looks bad for the neighbourhood.”
A third resident, Linda Williams, said: “It’s a good thing. It will give another person a nice home.”
The Press first revealed in 2007 that residents were growing increasingly concerned about the empty house after youths broke in, prompting fears of an arson attack.
Earlier this year, a resident wrote to newspaper to claim the “eyesore” property was attracting vandals and flytippers.
Coun Tracey Simpson-Laing, cabinet member for housing, said yesterday that the authority’s Empty Homes Strategy and Action Plan for 2012-2015 gave a commitment to minimise the numbers of empty properties by supporting their owners to bring them back into use.
“This includes the use of compulsory purchase powers if the owner fails to engage with the council to facilitate re-occupation,” she said.
“It is imperative in a climate of increasing pressure on the housing market and for the benefit of our communities that empty homes are brought back into use.”
She added that when she was first alerted to this property about six years ago, the council would not use the powers it had available but the cabinet had approved a CPO in July, and also agreed to fund its renovation, after which it would be added to its housing stock.
Westfield Labour Councillor Steve Burton said: “We have a homes crisis in York and it is only right and proper that the council uses powers granted to it to bring empty properties back into use as homes.”
The Press, which reported in 2007 that the owner of the property was Dean Hill, was unable to contact the owner yesterday.