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Bid to buy up vandal-hit home empty for a decade
THE owner of a house which has stood empty in Littlemore for 10 years could be forced to sell it to the city council.
Empty homes officers at the town hall are preparing a compulsory purchase order (CPO) for a home in Lanham Way after years of calls for action.
But the need for the order has been questioned by a neighbour, and signs that the house is being brought back up to scratch have been spotted.
Musician Linda Stoodley, 59, has lived next-door to the house for five years and said she sees the owner regularly.
She said: “I think she has been doing some things to the house. She has put in new windows at considerable expense.
“I don’t actually know whether she lives there but we do see her regularly. The house was in her family so I can understand why she wouldn’t want to sell.
“I know that if I had any concerns she would take them on board.”
Mrs Stoodley said she has been aware of problems on the site.
She said: “I think the owner has complained to the council because there were some vandals who burned the door of her garage.”
The home, built in the early 1960s, has been empty for 10 years according to council tax records, and has become a target for vandals.
It was first reported to the council in 2005 by neighbours concerned about rats seen leaving the garden.
It was boarded up in 2011 after several incidents of vandalism, and council officers tried to persuade the owner to bring the house up to scratch.
In October last year, the council’s dealings with the owner and her lawyer became the subject of an inquiry by the Local Government Ombudsman, which found in the council’s favour.
The council said it is considering merging the site of the house with a housing association development at nearby Lawn Upton House to maximise its use if it goes ahead with the purchase.
In March the council signed off on its new empty homes strategy, which promotes the use of CPOs to bring buildings back into use.
It comes after the Government introduced legislation allowing councils to impose higher council tax charges on people who leave homes empty for a long time.
A report to the council said: “The most appropriate way of securing continued housing use for this site is by making a compulsory purchase order.
“The property will be subsequently acquired by the council and then disposed of for renovation/redevelopment, or sold to a registered provider with a view to developing the site for further housing provision. This is the recommended option.”
The CPO will have to be approved by the council’s city executive board, which will meet on Wednesday at 5pm to discuss it.
Littlemore city councillor John Tanner said he supported the CPO bid.
He said: “This house has been in a shocking state for some time.
“This is a very nice rural lane in the middle of Littlemore and it’s important the house is brought up to standard.”
The owner of the home was not available for comment.
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