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Birmingham City Council to force developers to sell vacant property

Birmingham City Council will seize privately owned undeveloped land and empty properties to accelerate its plans to build more than 89,000 homes by 2031.

The local authority has granted itself powers to force developers to sell their property to the council if they do not bring empty residential buildings back into use.

The proposal was passed this week to support the council’s 15-year plan to deliver more than 89,000 homes.

Sites for 44,000 homes to be built have been identified and planning permission has been secured for 8,000 houses.

However, of these 8,000, the council has identified more than 5,000 privately owned properties that have been vacant for more than six months and around 1,900 houses that have been empty for more than three years.

The council will develop the land through its Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust programme, which has delivered 562 new homes over 2015/16.

It plans to build houses for affordable rent and purchase through the scheme, as well as developing bungalows to encourage elderly people to move into smaller housing to free up larger family households.

The council has been contacting owners of empty property for six years and advising developers on how to bring their empty property back into use.

Birmingham City Council lead contact office and head of housing development Clive Skidmore said that the council is “very keen” for site owners to build houses and redevelop land.

He said: “We don’t have a list of developers but are looking at sites now.

“We wanted to get the cabinet approval under our belts before we actually started going out and approaching people.”

The council has reduced the number of empty privately owned properties from 9,000 to 5,000 homes since 2011.

It also makes developers and private property owners pay one and a half times more council tax if their sites are left undeveloped or empty in order to incentivise development.

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband spearheaded the initiative for local councils to seize undeveloped land.

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