Orkney has a very high number of empty or uninhabited homes. To get to grips with this situation and to find solutions Orkney Islands Council appointed an Empty Homes Development Officer, Rachael Bowes. Orkney’s Empty Homes Officer Sets to Work
The Council has published a draft ‘Empty Homes Strategy 2018-2023. It sets out the ways in which OIC can help Orkney’s empty home owners bring their properties back into use.
Orkney currently has 303 potential homes currently classed as empty, representing 2.7% of the total number of properties in the area.
This places Orkney third nationwide in terms of the highest empty property rates – behind Shetland and Western Isles.
Rachael Bowes, the Empty Homes Development Officer, has enabled 18 empty properties to be brought back into use. She has worked with a number of suppliers to establish discounts on products needed by empty home owners to bring their property’s back in to use.
690 households have been given advice and additional information by Rachael over the first year of the project.
Year two of the project aims to bring a minimum of 20 more properties back in to use continuing to actively reduce the number of long-term empty homes in the county helping to enhance Orkney’s communities and economy.
Councillor Rob Crichton, Chair of the Council’s Education, Leisure and Housing Committee said:
‘Empty homes represent a significant drain on rural communities, affecting their ability to rejuvenate and grow. They can, however, be utilised to directly counter the issues they once caused.
“An empty home brought back into use as a primary residence represents another family in the community, potentially more children in local schools, and more money spent at local businesses.
‘Our Empty Homes Strategy 2018-2023 has been developed alongside partner organisations as our strategic response to the private sector empty homes in Orkney.
‘Through the delivery of this strategy, we aim to help the owners of empty homes to bring their unused properties back into use. This strategy will be used as a framework for all Empty Homes work until 2023.’
The strategy sets out how Orkney Islands Council intends to identify and tackle
private sector empty homes and the issues associated with them.
4 Key Objectives
• Understanding the scale of the long-term empty home issue across Orkney.
• Develop a process based on advice and assistance to bring empty properties back into use.
• Raise awareness of issues relating to empty homes in Orkney.
• Work with Development Trusts and communities to improve housing in their area
Respond to the consultation
Orkney Islands Council would like to hear your views on the strategy.
The Consultation closes at 5pm on Wednesday 24th October 2018.
Any comments should be submitted to Rachael Bowes, Empty Homes Development Officer via email firstname.lastname@example.org.