The Welsh government has given councils additional powers to compulsorily purchase empty homes and vacant land.
The government has also launched a new consultation on further reforms to ‘streamline and modernise’ compulsory purchase procedures (picture: Getty)
Announced yesterday following a consultation, the new rules will strengthen councils’ ability to force the sale of unused houses or land when it is in the public interest to do so.
Welsh housing minister Julie James also launched a new consultation on further reforms to “streamline and modernise” compulsory purchase procedures, to support the country’s COVID-19 recovery and bring forward land for the development of affordable housing.
Changes to the compulsory purchase process follow a recommendation from the Welsh government-commissioned Independent Review of Affordable Housing Supply, which published its recommendations in 2019.
Tackling the problem of empty properties has also been a key area of work in the government’s £90m Transforming Towns Programme, with £15.2m recently being allocated to bring 66 of the worst empty properties across Wales back into use.
The government has set several main priority areas as it plans its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, including sustainable development, house building and town centre development.
Ms James said: “In towns and villages across Wales, we see empty homes, former commercial properties and vacant land – which can often be a huge blight on local communities.
“Improving the delivery of homes in the right locations through the planning system is critical, and we are determined to do everything we can to help build the homes people want and help create jobs closer to people’s homes.
“The Welsh government has put placemaking at the heart of the planning system in Wales and believes compulsory purchase powers are an important action tool that can help support local authorities and communities recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
“Used properly, compulsory purchase powers can contribute towards effective and efficient regeneration, the revitalisation of communities, placemaking, and the promotion of business, leading to improvements in quality of life.
“These changes to planning policy will not only make the process fairer, more efficient and understandable, but remove barriers and help local councils and public bodies to implement positive changes in their communities.”