THERE are close to 5,000 empty homes in Bolton, it has been revealed.

Latest council tax information shows that there are currently 4,771 properties in the borough identified as being empty — and Bolton Council says it is now working to bring a number of these buildings back into use.

There are currently close to 25,000 people in Bolton on the council’s housing register, run by Homes for Bolton, although only 3,705 of these are currently actively waiting for a home.

The news comes as the council, along with others in Greater Manchester, is preparing to launch a draft consultation to address a shortfall in housing across the region.

As reported in The Bolton News, this could result in the building of around 7,000 new homes in the borough before 2035.

With such high-levels of building planned, it may come as a surprise to many that there is such a large number of homes lying empty within the town.

Council statistics show that the 4,771 empty properties can be broken down into a number of categories — which present a variety of difficulties for the authority.

A total of 1,385 of the homes are currently empty, unoccupied and unfurnished, while 1,171 properties have an exemption from paying council tax.

This can be for a number of reasons, including a resident being in hospital receiving care, the property being repossessed, a resident being detained or the property being owned by a charity such as a social landlord.

There are 1,076 properties in Bolton described as ‘long-term empties’ while there are 627 which are used as second homes.

A total of 439 of the houses are regarded as long term ‘premium’ empties while 73 houses are identified as uninhabitable or in need of major works.

In order to tackle the problem, the council is bringing in a specific empty homes co-ordinator and has identified a number of schemes aimed at bringing empty houses back into use.

One of these is to offer loans of up to £20,000 to help owners with limited finances complete works on their properties which will be repayable through rental income.

help the owners of empty properties who have limited finances to complete works on their properties. This will be done in the form of a loan of up to £20,000 which will be repayable through rental income.

The authority will also look at improving the appearance of empty houses over the next year where a raft of complaints have come in regarding the negative effect on local communities.

A small number of houses owned by Bolton at Home could be brought back into use as well — with the council aiming to fill any funding shortfalls to help with necessary refurbishments.

Council leader Cliff Morris said: “We are working very hard on a number of schemes that we hope will bring some of these empty properties back into use.

We are looking at the money and grants we can offer in terms of helping people who are struggling to improve of their own properties as well as funding some improvements to long-term empty properties directly.”

Just under £117,000 has been made available for the schemes and council chiefs are aiming to bring 113 properties back into use next year.

Bolton Council does not operate a waiting list in the same way as other local authorities. The council has a housing register which is run by Homes for Bolton, which comprises the council and housing agencies.