Orkney Islands Council appoints empty homes officer

Orkney1Orkney Islands Council has become the first Scottish island authority to appoint an empty homes officer.

The officer will work with North Ronaldsay Trust to bring empty homes back into use with the hope the project could be a model for other communities.

According to Shelter Scotland, Orkney has one of the highest proportions of empty homes in Scotland, taking population into account.

Peter Donnelly from the North Ronaldsay Trust told BBC Radio Orkney it has identified 30 abandoned houses in the island that could be brought back into use.

The aim is to renovate them, at the rate of one a year for the next 30 years.

He said: “Instead of waiting for a council property, we as a community take the action. We work with islanders to try and get the property available.

“The development trust would simply get the money for the property. We’d look at getting professional organisations to run and manage the property for us.

“And we’d look at having it on a long-term lease, so people from the island would lease it to the development trust. And at some stage in the future they could get the property back all done up, if they wanted it for their own family.”

Related: Blog: Empty homes on the Orkney Islands

Luke Fraser from housing services at Orkney Islands Council said Orkney has a lot of second homes.

He added: “We’ve got a lot of properties that are old and derelict out in the rural and island areas. Some of them are properties you could bring back into use. And others are ruins that you probably could replace, one for one, but are probably too far gone to be able to bring back into use.

“I don’t think it’s a really bad thing for us. It’s an opportunity. We’ve got a lot of opportunities now to utilise the property stock we have available to us.”

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