AN ACTION plan to bring life back to Bournemouth’s 830 empty homes is being launched by the council.

The authority is planning to set aside £1million for compulsory purchases, as well as offering incentives to property owners and introducing fresh enforcement measures.

A draft report estimates almost one per cent of all dwellings in the borough are currently unoccupied, nearly 98 per cent of which are privately owned.

Housing portfolio holder Cllr Bob Lawton said the plan is part of a five-year strategy and follows a string of recent successes from the council’s empty homes team.

“It is crucial, that at a time when the demand for housing is increasing, that the council does everything it can to ensure empty homes are improved and used to provide much needed housing for local people and help to reduce the negative impact that some empty properties have on the community,” he said.

“The strategy looks at supporting empty homeowners to find solutions to bring the property back in to use as well as taking a robust enforcement approach, where required, where homes stand empty for a long time.”

As well as the money for compulsory purchases, a request has been made for a further £50,000 to help provide owner assistance and fund any other necessary specialist external services.

In a report set to be considered at the borough next Community Overview and Scrutiny Panel, empty homes officer Emma Ryan said: “Empty properties represent waste, missed opportunities and are proven to have negative social, economic and environmental impacts upon local communities.

“In the context of a borough with a significant housing shortage, it is essential we maximise the use of these empty homes to provide additional accommodation and reduce their negative impacts upon the community.”

Ms Ryan said the strategy will be supplemented with four key aims – maintaining a database of empty homes in the borough, encouraging home owners to voluntarily bring their properties back to use, targeting the most problematic with enforcement action and raising awareness.

The draft strategy, which is currently subject to consultation with stakeholders such as property owners and building professionals, will be considered by councillors at July 12’s Community Overview and Scrutiny Panel. It is expected to go before cabinet in October.