Stoke & Staffordshire

Stoke-on-Trent City Council agrees to sell homes for £1

Dozens of empty homes in Stoke-on-Trent are to be sold for £1 each.

As part of a trial scheme, 35 homes on Portland Street, Cobridge, owned by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, will be sold to people willing to revamp them.

The houses were due to be demolished and the area redeveloped until a government scheme was withdrawn.

The Labour-led council, which approved the plans at a meeting on Thursday, said bringing homes back into use would help to regenerate communities.

The city has almost 5,000 empty houses, about half of which have been empty for more than six months.

Steve Pritchard, from the residents' association in Cobridge, said: "We have people living next door to boarded-up properties and it's an area that's declined significantly as a result of it.

"Anti-social behaviour has increased, there's been an awful lot of fly-tipping.

"Anything that gives people a stake in the community and something to be proud of has got to be encouraged."

'Left in limbo'

The local authority said buyers would have to live in the properties for at least five years, but would be eligible for a low-interest £30,000 loan to help improve the homes.

The £3m scheme has been part-funded through a government grant to bring properties back into use.

Many of the houses owned by the local authority were bought from private owners and were due to be demolished under the government's £1bn national Pathfinder programme, which was scrapped in 2010.

Councillor Janine Bridges, responsible for housing in the city, said the decision had left the local authority "in limbo".

She said the new scheme would benefit both communities and people wanting to take a step onto the housing ladder.

"We're going to re-plumb them, refurbish them, rewire them, but they will be a shell essentially," she said.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council said it would also be investing money to improve the area around Portland Street to help tempt people into the area.

Ms Bridges said: "We hope people will stay, take pride in the area and as they pay-off the loan, that money is going to be recycled to let us do this in other properties in the city."

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