A MULTI-MILLION pound scheme that aims to prevent the wider decline of neighbourhoods across Hartlepool by bringing individual empty properties back into use is proving a big success.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s £5.8m Empty Property Purchasing Scheme aims to bring properties back into use before they can become caught up in a spiral of decline that can affect entire communities.

The council is working in partnership with Housing Hartlepool to identify privately-owned properties that have been vacant for six months or more, and the scheme has already achieved more than 70 per cent of its acquisitions target.

As a result, newly-refurbished and carpeted one, two and three-bedroom properties - managed by Housing Hartlepool - are now available to local people at affordable rents.

Damien Wilson, the council’s assistant director of regeneration, said: “The ultimate aim of the scheme is to raise standards in the private rented sector and encourage investment in property in the town – with all the economic and community benefits that brings.”

Anyone interested in renting a refurbished property should contact Trina Featherstone in the Housing Hartlepool Regeneration Team on 01429-525381. If you are a landlord with an empty property call Martin Spaldin, Hartlepool Council’s Empty Homes Officer, on 01429-523288.