More than 400 properties empty in the Harborough district

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There are more than 400 properties in the Harborough district that have been empty for more than six months - the equivalent of a village the size of Great Bowden.

But many could be brought back into use, under Harborough District Council plans to charge extra council tax on long-term empty properties.

The council has launched a consultation on the proposed changes to council tax which would come into effect from April 1, 2018.

It is proposed that properties empty for more than two years will be subject to an additional 50 per cent on their council tax.

The rule would not apply to properties undergoing major repairs.

Cllr Neil Bannister, the council’s portfolio holder responsible for environment and regulation, said: “Bringing empty properties back into use encourages economic vitality and can increase spending in the local economy, as run-down unsightly homes can deter investment in an area and lead to area blight.”

Cllr Phil King, deputy leader and portfolio holder responsible for finance and assets services, said: “An empty house is a wasted resource. Bringing empty homes back into use helps meet local housing need, prevents squatting, reduces homelessness and the need for temporary accommodation.”

Owners of properties affected by proposed changes will be told about the consultation which runs until August 20. Residents can also have their say online via the council’s website.