BOROUGH chiefs want to see empty homes brought back into use ahead of a new council tax premium being launched.

In the most recent count done by Cheshire East Council for the Government, there were 2,002 empty properties across the borough.

Cllr Nick Mannion, cabinet member for environment and regeneration, says this number is ‘very low’ compared to other areas.

But he insists there is ‘no reason to be complacent’ as the council looks to cut the number of unoccupied homes in the borough even further.

Cllr Nick Mannion

Cllr Nick Mannion

This week, February 15 to 21, is National Empty Homes Week – shining a light on the issue.

It comes with time running out before April 1, when a new CEC council tax premium of 300 per cent comes into effect for owners of empty properties which have been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for at least 10 years.

With land for new homes scarce in places, and a need to protect green spaces, CEC says reusing empty homes is an extremely sensible source of housing.

A significant number of empty homes are 'transactional' empty homes – meaning they are being refurbished or are on the market – and these will come back into use without intervention.

However, CEC says there are empty homes where the owner is unable to bring them back into use without help, and the authority says it will help owners to do so.

Cllr Mannion added: “My ask of any resident of Cheshire East who may be the owner of an empty home in the borough is, please do talk to our housing experts, who can help to provide you with the information you may need to resolve your circumstances.”

Occasionally, people buy houses as investments and decide to leave these properties empty until the market improves.

The council says it will consider the use of legal powers against people who leave a property empty without good reason.

Empty homes can be reported to CEC on the council’s website, while empty home owners who need support can call the authority on 0300 123 5017 and choose option four.