Views sought Orkney empty homes strategy

Orkney Islands Council is seeking views for its draft ‘Empty Homes Strategy 2018-2023’, which aims to sets out the ways in which the council can help Orkney’s empty home owners to bring their properties back into use.

Orkney currently has 303 potential homes currently classed as empty, representing 2.7% of the total number of properties in the area. This places Orkney third nationwide in terms of the highest empty property rates - behind Shetland and Western Isles specifically.

The council currently has an empty homes development officer post part-funded by both Shelter Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

The first year of the project has seen 18 empty properties brought back into use and work done with a number of suppliers to establish discounts on products needed by empty home owners to bring their properties back in to use.

Furthermore a total of 690 households have been given advice and additional information by the empty homes development officer over the first year of the project.

Year two of the project aims to bring a minimum of 20 more properties back in to use continuing to actively reduce the number of long-term empty homes in the county helping to enhance Orkney’s communities and economy.

Councillor Rob Crichton, chair of the council’s education, leisure and housing committee, said: “Empty homes represent a significant drain on rural communities, affecting their ability to rejuvenate and grow. They can, however, be utilised to directly counter the issues they once caused. An empty home brought back into use as a primary residence represents another family in the community, potentially more children in local schools, and more money spent at local businesses.

“Our Empty Homes Strategy 2018-2023 has been developed alongside partner organisations as our strategic response to the private sector empty homes in Orkney.

“Through the delivery of this strategy, we aim to help the owners of empty homes to bring their unused properties back into use. This strategy will be used as a framework for all Empty Homes work until 2023.”

The document is under consultation until October 24.

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