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2016 Conference another success

'Very informative - put me down for next year' was a typical feedback comment from a delegate to the 2016 Empty Homes Conference in Birmingham.

The average number of stars awarded by delegates was 4.53 out of 5, maintaining the level of satisfaction seen in previous years. And despite austerity, the numbers attending were only marginally lower than in 2015.

Nick Pritchard-Gordon, Chair of the Empty Homes Network and Empty Homes Officer at Reading Borough Council (pictured right), presided over the event in his inimitable style, ensuring that everyone felt at home and relaxed.  'Maybe add a song and dance routine next year!' said one feedback form, tickled no doubt by Nick's stream of anecdotes. 

The hot breakfast options and proper sit-down lunch - courtesy of Fraser and Fraser's sponsorship - brought positive comments from people who had travelled from all over the United Kingdom, from places as far apart as Cornwall and Kent, Wales and Scotland.

CPO reforms may mean lower Basic Loss payments

DCLG and HM Treasury are consulting on further changes to the compulsory purchase legislation. Most of the changes do not seem to affect empty homes work but important changes to the arrangements for basic loss adjustment seem to offer some hope that CPOs of eyesore empties could become cheaper - depending exactly how the rules might be interpreted.

Under the current regime, basic loss payments are available to owners and occupiers, reflecting a typical split in commercial property between an instittutional investor that owns the property and a business that occupies it on a lease. Under current arrangements the owner gets 7.5% of the market value of the property (capped at £75k) and the occupier up to (but often less than) 2.5% of the market value of their interest (capped at £25k).

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£1.3million grants for empty homes projects to address youth homelessness

Property industry charity Landaid has awarded £1.3million in grants to projects to provide housing for young homeless people by bringing empty homes back into use.

There were 57 applications for the available grant, and awards were made to 15 projects, including World Habitat Award winners Canopy. Canopy's £80,000 grant will enable them to refurbish three properties and provide housing for six young homeless people.

Best Local Authority / Housing Association Partnership Award 2015

As we approach the 2016 Empty Homes Awards season, it's worth refreshing memories with a look back at last year's awards.

We've already covered the Practitioner of the Year Award and the Best Local Authority / Community Housing Organisation Awards, but we haven't given the details of last year's award for the best partnership between a local authority and a housing assocation.

EHN asks Mayoral candidates to support London Empty Homes Initiative

The Empty Homes Network has published a brief document inviting the candidates in the election for London Mayor to consider the development of a London-wide Empty Homes Initiative.

No Stone Unturned - subtitled 'An Empty Homes Initiative for London' - identifies numerous benefits of a regional approach, citing the initiatives in Kent, Scotland and Wales as exemplars.

Empty homes projects scoop World Habitat Awards

Two leading self-help housing organisations from have scooped World Habitat Awards in the 2015-16 competition. Girsocope and Canopy, both well-known for their innovative approaches to tackling empty homes, offered a joint submission under the heading "Self-Help Housing in the North of England". They were announced as winners on the 29th February (along with a Puerto Rican Community Land Trust).

Eight Welsh councils look to implement council tax premium for empty & second homes.

Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Anglesey, Conwy, Ceredigion, Powys, Gwynedd and Flintshire are the first Welsh Local Authorities looking at implementing a 50% council tax premium on empty and second homes for 2017/18. Councils must make the declaration by 1st April 2016 to begin charging in 2017/18.

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