Empty properties in Copers Cope ward in the London Borough of Bromley
Listed below are 4 properties in Copers Cope Ward that have been empty for some time. The first 3 properties could have been empty for over 3 years.
It would be possible for these properties to be leased to a housing association to be used for housing pending any decision about their future use. Bromley Council has the legal powers to serve an empty property management order on the owners but choses not to do so. This is a waste of resources especially when homeless households are provided by the council with temporary accommodation often a long way out of the borough.
- The owner of Conifer House South End Road BR3 1S was granted planning permission in August 2016 but this expired in August 2019. It appears that only one person lives at this address. There are no lights on at night and only one car parked outside the block. There is a large pile of uncollected post outside the front door. There are 9 flats in this block.
2> Beck House, 36a Copers Cope Road BR3 1NH. Conditional planning permission was granted on 14 July 2016. Comments on Facebook indicate that it has been empty for over 5 years.
3> North Dene Beckenham Place Park BR3 5BS
There has been a history of planning applications made and refused at this property which may have been empty since 2013.
4>85 Downs hill BR3 at the corner of Downs hill and Foxgrove Road. I believe that this property may have been empty for around 2 years. There was a large-scale renovation after which the property was put up for sale and then taken off the market. There are never any lights on at the property and nobody ever visits it.
5> This property in Foxgrove Road has been empty for several years.
Formal questions were asked at Bromley council’s meeting in December 2017 about empty homes.
How many residential properties have been vacant for three years or more in the borough and please list which wards these vacant properties are located in?
There are currently 119 residential properties in Bromley that have been empty for three years or more. The Authority’s Council Tax system does not hold data at ward level. However, for your information I have tabled tonight a breakdown of the 119 properties by post code. (See appendix 1 below)
How many vacant properties has the Council brought back into use in the last 3 years and how many Council staff work full-time on bringing vacant properties back into use?
The number of long-term empty properties in Bromley has reduced by a total of 93 over the last 3 years. This is partly as a result of advice, financial assistance, loans and grants as well as pressure and enforcement action.
There are currently no staff working full time on empty property work as the Empty Property Officer has been on maternity leave for the last 3 weeks. The Housing Improvement Team Manager and a Housing Grant Team Surveyor are dealing with current cases. Interviews for replacement staff are due on the 30th of November. If suitable candidates are identified, 2 new staff will be recruited.
A total of 34 street properties were brought back into use as a direct result of Council intervention and funding in the last 3 years (2014-2017). An additional 45 units were brought back into use at Manorfields with the support of significant funding successfully bid for by the Empty Property Officer in collaboration with the Housing Division of Care Services. 3 other long term empty properties are currently under direct control of the Council as a result of enforcement action. Empty Property staff and funding for work is paid for entirely from external funding obtained and recycled over the past 11 years and are employed on temporary contracts
The replies to the above questions appear to give the impression that the council is managing empty properties in the borough adequately. However, according to Government figures (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-dwelling-stock-including-vacants ), :
the number of empty properties in the London Borough of Bromley have in fact gone up from 2645 in October 2016 to 3070 in October 2019.
The House of Commons Library ( https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/constituency-data-house-prices/#single_constituency ) shows that the average property price paid in Beckenham constituency was £498.750 for the year ending September 2020. This suggests that a more vigorous enforcement policy is required by the Council to bring these empty properties back into residential use.
Bromley Council has in fact consulted local residents about whether to increase the council tax for the owners of empty properties .This consultation took place between October and December 2020 ( https://www.bromley.gov.uk/info/200028/council_tax/1339/empty_homes_premium_for_unoccupied_dwellings ). The option the council recommended was that the Empty Homes Premium be applied at the rate of 100% for properties empty between 2 & 5 years, increasing to 200% after 5 years and 300% after 10 years.
The council’s report disclosed that of all the responses received, overall 57% were in agreement with the empty homes premium being applied at the rate of 100% for properties empty between 2 & 5 years, increasing to 200% after 5 years and 300% after 10 years. Page 9 of the report advised that the timetable for implementation of the the proposed new scheme will commence on 1st April 2021.
The opening paragraph of the consultation document described the reason for the proposed change
Bromley Council is keen to explore ways of bringing more empty homes back into use. This consultation is asking residents for views on whether Council Tax charges should be increased for owners of long-term empty homes.
There are currently around 300 homes in Bromley which are liable for Council Tax and are recorded as having been empty for 2 years or longer. Long-term empty properties are a wasted resource. For their owners, they are not earning any income and may be depreciating in value due to deterioration. For the local community, these properties can be an eyesore and a nuisance as they often attract vandalism and fly-tipping and, if homes are neglected, the value of surrounding properties tends to be reduced as a result of the neighbourhood not being perceived as a good place to live.
In many areas where there is a high demand for housing, empty homes brought back into use could become an important source of homes for households who need them. This could be either affordable homes, such as social rented housing, or market housing, such as homes for private rent or sale.
The Council is seeking residents’ views on changes to the Empty Homes Premium for unoccupied dwellings from April 2021. This is a sum that would be payable in addition to the Council Tax liability should the property be unoccupied.
It appears that the council made a decision at the Executive meeting in January 2021 to defer any decision on whether to increase the premium due to to the difficulties caused by the pandemic.https://cds.bromley.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=121&MId=6930
” 4) In view of the uncertainty on owners’ ability to sell or bring the empty property back into occupation due to the impact of the pandemic, the decision to make any changes to the current levels of premium be deferred for one year.”
This ignores the fact that properties are still being sold in the housing market and that the building industry is still operating albeit at a slower rate. No mention was made of what would happen to the additional income of approximately £145 per year. The council chose not to increase the empty premium partially or even to refer to their decision in the council tax demands. Many people will think that the council are being too soft on the owners of empty properties.
Bexley Council which is also Conservative have in fact adopted the approach that Bromley Council were recommending. https://exwww.bexley.gov.uk/services/council-tax/empty-properties/unoccupied-properties#:~:text=The%20Council%20Tax%20Empty%20Property,property%20back%20in%20to%20use.&text=From%20