Orkney’s Empty Homes Officer Sets to Work

Empty Homes Project Officer for Orkney, Rachael Bowes, is  setting up a scheme which will encourage people to register their interest in either buying or selling a property to help match up buyers and sellers in a move to address the large number of empty homes in Orkney.

empty homes

photo courtesy of Gavin Leask

A recent report highlighted that Orkney has the highest percentage of dwellings in Scotland that are vacant at 6.9% and the third highest percentage of dwellings that are second homes at 3.5%.

In 2006 there were 802 homes unoccupied (433 empty and 369 second homes) and in 2016 this had risen to 1151 (759 empty and 392 second homes).

People in the islands are also choosing to live in or around the main towns of Kirkwall, Stromness and Dounby leaving many houses in other parts of the county empty. The new Council scheme is primarily targeting the 759 empty properties on the island to try and bring them back into productive use.

Rachael Bowes can also help empty home owners who register to access discounts for renovating their properties, including VAT discounts on restoration works and discounts on materials from recognised retailers. She will also be working with community groups across the islands to help take forward housing projects.

Rob Crichton,Chair of the Council’s Education, Leisure and Housing Committee said:

“Orkney has a high percentage of homes classed as ‘empty’ and there are a number of area related reasons for this.  The Council is committed to bringing long-term empty homes back into use to meet housing needs and we’re delighted to welcome Rachael to the team at the Council to lead this.”

Further details on the matchmaking scheme is available at http://www.orkney.gov.uk/Service-Directory/H/empty-homes.htm.

You can contact Rachael Bowes at the Council on 01856873535 or email rachael.bowes@orkney.gov.uk

Related Story: The Work Begins: Rescuing Orkney’s Empty Homes

empty homes

photo courtesy of Gavin Leask

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9 replies »

  1. Isn’t the matching of empty homes with people that want to buy homes, exactly what estate agents currently do?

    So, by the sound of it, we are paying for a council post that is basically encouraging people to sell/rent their empty houses to meet housing demands?

    And apparently the council is committed to bringing privately owned and currently empty houses back onto the market… which is exactly the kind of thing a pro-active estate agent could and should be doing.

  2. I am an outsider looking in. Could this be that the younger generation are looking for jobs elsewhere, and have no interest in taking over the family farms, also generation getting older and going into elderly care homes? Are the banks etc., helping to keep the youth and young families to stay, by helping them to get loans to start business and to get a home. I hear the education in Orkney is top rated, so is there a plan to keep the next generation home to help Orkney go into the future.

    Tina B.

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