Number of homes standing empty nears 1,000 mark

New housing targets across Tonbridge & Malling are 'undeliverable'

Concerns have been raised over hundreds of properties in Tunbridge Wells recorded as standing empty.

According to the borough’s figures, 840 homes in the area are presently classified as not in use, with reasons including planning issues, owners’ inability to finance necessary works and disagreements over probate.

There are currently 997 individuals or families on the borough’s social housing register waiting for a property in the area.

Tunbridge Wells Parliamentary candidate for Labour, Kevin Kerrigan, expressed concern over the levels of empty homes.

He said: “There are hundreds of people in the town on low incomes who desperately need a place to live, many of whom have waited years to find one.

“The Government and local councils should be putting in maximum effort to persuade or cajole house owners to let these houses out or to buy some of these properties themselves to rent out to those who need them.”

However, a spokesperson for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council said that it was doing all it could under the No Use Empty scheme, which seeks to bring both private and council-owned properties back into the housing stock.

Over the past three years, a total of 12 properties were brought back into use with financial assistance, and a further 80 homes were put back on the market following discussions with property owners.

The spokesperson said: “This scheme is only one of the measures used to tackle empty homes. Tunbridge Wells Borough Council also adopted an Empty Homes Policy in 2012.

“Some of these issues with empty proper-ties can be supported by private sector housing, with planning, conservation and council tax, but many of the reasons are outside the council’s control.

“Making a decision about what to do with an empty property is often more complex than it would appear and, as well as practical considerations, there can be personal reasons why someone holds on to an empty property, particularly where it has been the family home for a number of years.”

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