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Blackpool squatter house transformed

The property in Grosvenor Street has now been transformed (below) after it was closed down. Bottom: Coun Gillian Campbell.

The property in Grosvenor Street has now been transformed (below) after it was closed down. Bottom: Coun Gillian Campbell.

An eyesore property which became a haven for squatters has become the latest to be transformed into a new home.

The property, on Grosvenor Street, had been shut down by Blackpool Council housing officers because of dangerous living conditions including faulty electrics, no heating, no hot water and severe damp.

Parts of the structure were collapsing, raw sewage was found in the building and there were no fire safety precautions.

But new owner, local landlord Mark Woodacre, has invested in restoring the building and new tenants moved in last month.

Mr Woodacre, who owns a number of other properties around the town, said: “It takes a lot more time and money to refurbish derelict properties such as this but when done to a high standard you attract much better tenants who appreciate the property more and tend to stay with me for a longer period of time.

“This, in the long term, gives me a better return on the investment and hopefully makes an improvement in the area.”

Council bosses claim their new housing enforcement policies mean this is just one of a number of recent success stories around the town.

Coun Gillian Campbell, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “Our officers have worked with the new owner on this property who has achieved the excellent refurbishment results.

“This property has been problematic for years with squatters often breaking in and conditions not fit for living.

“We served notices to improve the external appearance and the new owner has brought the property up to a high standard resulting in some of the best flats in the town.”

In 2011, Blackpool brought in a Selective Licensing scheme in South Beach.

The policy requires all landlords to hold a licence, ensure effective management and keep their property to a decent standard.

It has resulted in anti-social behaviour incidents falling by a third, and criminal incidents associated with private rented properties halving in the area. A consultation has now been held to extend the scheme to the Claremont area.

New planning policies have also been introduced requiring higher standards when applications to convert guest houses to homes are submitted.

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Town hall carries out thousands of probes

Every year Blackpool Council’s housing enforcement team, with police and the fire service, undertake around 4,000 property inspections of the type which led the property in Grosvenor Street to be shut down.

And a further 1,500 inspections are carried out in response to resident complaints.

Outreach programmes have also been launched to try to support vulnerable tenants with family intervention teams, housing options teams and social services providing expertise and assistance.

In December, a further £293,000 was secured by the council from the Department for Communities and Local Government to employ seven new planning and housing enforcement officers to extend the work the authority has been doing further.

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