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Why is this house still standing empty?
NEIGHBOURS want to know why a family home has sat boarded up for two years when nearly 5,000 people are on Basildon Council’s housing waiting list.
Those living near the sizeable detached house in Gardiners Close, Basildon, have accused the authorities of allowing the “perfectly decent family home” to go to waste while homeless families struggle in hostels.
They also claim the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency has gone back on a promise to rent out the property after forcing the owner to sell up nearly two years ago.
They accused Basildon Council – which currently has about 4,895 people on its housing waiting list – of doing nothing to ensure the house is occupied.
The agency bought up the house from its owner as it needed the land for a major business park and homes development, which has since been shelved due to the economic climate.
Pauline Missing, 56, is one neighbour who has refused to sell up unless she is offered a better deal.
She said: “The Homes and Communities Agency promised this house would not just sit empty, it still is.
“It is a sizeable house that could be someone’s home, but it is just boarded up. Some of the windows have been smashed, and it completely brings down the area.”
Mrs Missing said the house should go to those in need, including a soldier she read about in the Echo who, despite having six children, has had to move into a hostel as no suitable homes for his family are available.
Mrs Missing also wants clarity about the proposed plans, and says their lives have been blighted with the threat of the business park development for the past 20 years.
She said: “We are still living in limbo and have no idea what will eventually happen.
“We have asked the council to help, but they can’t tell us anything and have been unable to get anything sorted about the empty house.”
A spokeswoman for the agency said: “Discussions are ongoing with Basildon Council regarding lease arrangements for the property in question.
“It has been secured with metal sheeting and is alarmed – this triggers a security inspection should it be set off.
“Regular inspections also take place and the estate manager has an established relationship with residents who he describes as ‘responsive’ and who know to get in touch to report any issues which are promptly dealt with.”
A council spokesman added: “This is a matter for the Homes and Communities Agency, and they are dealing with it.”