West Norfolk Council ponders empty homes support and tax hike

GV of  the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, King's Court Hq, Chapel Street King's Lynn

GV of the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, King's Court Hq, Chapel Street King's Lynn

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Owners of empty properties in West Norfolk may be offered some council help to bring them back into use, a committee has heard.

But officials have also indicated they could impose higher tax charges earlier if homes are left empty for long periods.

The number of long-term empty homes in West Norfolk has fallen by almost 200 over the last four years.

A presentation made to the borough council’s environment and community panel on Wednesday was told the numbers had now stabilised.

And officers said they were looking at ways in which they could offer support for low-cost schemes to renovate properties.

But the meeting also heard they were keen to lobby for an increase in the amount of council tax charged on empty homes earlier.

At present, the council imposes a 150 per cent charge when a property has been empty for over two years.

Jim Moriarty asked whether the government’s housing white paper, published last week, would affect officials’ ideas.

Jackie Westrop also questioned the status of mixed use buildings, asking: “Does that come under policy?”

Officers said there were potential opportunities associated with old retail spaces.

They added their initial reading of the white paper did not suggest any conflict with their deas.