Empty homes strategy under review

Vacant properties in the Wapping Lane area of Derry.
Vacant properties in the Wapping Lane area of Derry.
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The government has confirmed its Empty Homes Strategy is under review, amid concerns raised by Foyle SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan.

A Department for Infrastructure (DfI) spokesperson said officials were working with Housing Associations to secure loans to bring empty homes back into use.

Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan.

Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan.

She was speaking after it emerged that there are 1,200 vacant properties across Derry & Strabane, and more than 20,000 across the north.

Mr Durkan earlier this week raised concerns over the issue and said that the 2013-18 Empty Homes Strategy did not seem to be working.

Responding to this, a DfI spokeswoman said: “Clanmil Housing Association received £9.2m Financial Transaction Capital to bring 153 homes back into use and Apex Housing Association received £4.7m from the Get Britain Building fund to bring 156 homes into use by 2017, both are on track to deliver these targets.

“A review of the Empty Homes Strategy is currently under way which is examining best practise from other jurisdictions and will consider options for a more targeted local partnership approach to bringing empty homes back into use.

“To help us to this we are in the process of finalising a data sharing protocol with Land and Property Service to enable the Department to identify owners of empty properties. This will help speed up the process of earlier engagement with owners to ascertain what their intentions are in relation to their empty property and advise them on how to bring their property back into use.

“The Empty Homes Strategy 2013 - 2018 has had an impact on bringing empty homes back into use,” the spokesperson added.