Empty homes fears

PUBLISHED: 09:35 05 June 2009 | UPDATED: 07:15 30 May 2010

DEEP concerns have emerged over the number of empty houses around Stansted Airport and the effect they are having on local communities. Uttlesford district councillor Susan Barker voiced her growing sadness over groups of houses that currently lie empty

DEEP concerns have emerged over the number of empty houses around Stansted Airport and the effect they are having on local communities.

Uttlesford district councillor Susan Barker voiced her "growing sadness" over groups of houses that currently lie empty in Takeley and Molehill Green.

She told Dunmow Town Council: "It is really upsetting to see so many houses not being used. It negatively affects the way communities operate."

A large proportion of the houses are owned by airport operator BAA which ran a strictly voluntary scheme allowing homeowners to sell houses onto the company in return for the market value.

It was designed to allow residents to be able to move out of an area of airport expansion without being financially compromised.

A BAA spokesman said: "Over 90 per cent of the houses we own are either occupied or soon to be occupied. With the current state of the housing market, that seems to be a good ratio."

However, Takeley parish councillor Trevor Allen believes that the empty house situation is threatening to split the community and make local facilities, such as schools and shops, struggle.

He said: "Takeley Primary School was struggling with small pupil numbers when this first started.

"We are all deeply concerned about the way BAA is looking after houses and we want them to be sold back to private owners.

"Many of the houses, including Grade II listed ones, are falling into disrepair and it is unacceptable."

However, the BAA spokesman said that a great deal of time and money is put in to keep them maintained and ready for letting.

"We have spent £250,000 in the last three years just maintaining the Grade II listed buildings," he said.

"Regular site visits are conducted and we have a team of gardeners and security workers that continue to do work every two weeks.

"Money is spent on refurbishment and landscaping the houses so that they are always ready to be let out by new residents."

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