MP steps into empty village homes row

A housing association has been criticised for allowing three affordable homes to stand empty in a village for two years despite local housing shortages.

Moulton Parish Council took its concerns over the properties, currently owned by Flagship Housing, to MP Matt Hancock who met chairman Cllr Bill Rampling and clerk Lorraine Stone to discuss the issue.

Cllr Rampling said: “We have battled for a year and they (Flagship) promised that they were going to do them up but now they saying that would be too expensive and they are going to be sold.

“I think housing associations have a responsibility to take care of their properties.”

He said Mr Hancock was “very sympathetic” to the issue. “He is aware of the issues and hopefully he gets the opportunity to do something, but things will only improve through the combined efforts of a number of people.”

The homes in question are two two-bedroom houses, and one three-bedroom house in The Street and in Church Road, that were previously owned by Forest Heath District Council.

“We want to ensure that the property is given to local people. We are conscious as a parish council that we’ve got a requirement for providing affordable housing for our people.”

James Payne, Flagship’s interim head of asset management, said: “We try to avoid disposing of our homes wherever possible. We discussed the future of these properties with Moulton Parish Council, local residents and Forest Heath District Council, last year and it was agreed we would try to retain two of the properties and that the remaining property would be sold.

“Unfortunately, following extensive survey work, it has become clear that refurbishing these properties, to bring them up to decent home standard, is not financially viable for us.

“Therefore, and with the full agreement and support of Forest Heath District Council, we have taken the difficult decision to dispose of the properties.”

Mr Payne said the money made from the sales would be re-invested to provide new affordable homes but did not say where.