Green Comment on Council's acquisition of property which has been unoccupied for 28 years

Green Comment Says Cllr David Thomas, Shadow Housing Spokesperson for the Green Group, "One has to wonder why the Council has taken 28 years to acquire this property. Compulsory purchase orders are a useful tool that should be routinely used where land or properties are left unused." 

FMI: Cllr David Thomas 07792 527421

PRESS RELEASE: Council gains compulsory purchase order for property which has been unoccupied for 28 years 

The government has confirmed a compulsory purchase order (CPO) which will allow Oxford City Council to buy a Rose Hill property that has been empty since the death of its owner in 1989.

100 Spencer Crescent is a four bedroom house which had been a council property until it was purchased under Right to Buy in 1988.

The property is still in the deceased owner’s name as the executors of their estate have never applied for probate. The council has been in discussion with the executors since 1993, encouraging them to bring the property back into use and offering to buy it once probate was granted.

The CPO has been confirmed by the Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). DCLG guidance states that a CPO can only be made if there is a compelling case in the public interest.

There are more than 3,000 households on the council’s housing register.

The council intends to use the house as temporary accommodation for homeless families once the legal process is completed and the property is renovated.

Councillor Mike Rowley, Board Member for Housing, said: “The last time someone lived in this house the Berlin Wall was still standing. Given the housing crisis in Oxford, it’s a tragedy that any suitable property remains unoccupied, and it’s a crying shame that we could not bring this house back into use earlier. Once the legal process is complete, we will refurbish this house so it can become much-needed temporary accommodation for homeless families.

“Compulsory purchase is absolutely the last resort, and we would much prefer to come to agreements with owners and executors of estates to bring empty properties back into use. If you’ve got an empty property, you can help us to meet housing need and alleviate the Oxford housing crisis – please speak to our Empty Residential Property Officer about how we can help you.”

The council’s Empty Residential Property Officer can be contacted on 01865 252280.  


Notes to editors

Following a council resolution on 15 September 2016, the CPO application was made to the DCLG in February 2017. The CPO was made under Section 17 of the Housing Act 1985 (as amended) and the Acquisition of Land Act 1981.

The CPO was confirmed on 20 November 2017.

A notice of confirmation for the CPO was placed in the local press and on the property on 14 December. Following publication of the order, an appeal to the High Court against the CPO may be lodged within six weeks. 

Alternatives to a CPO were not available in respect of 100 Spencer Crescent.

Under Part 4 Housing Act 2004, councils can apply for Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMOs), which allow them to take over control and ensure occupation of unoccupied properties. EDMOs do not affect the ownership of property and a property under an EDMO can be returned to the owner’s control after seven years.

The council could not make an EDMO for 100 Spencer Crescent because the owner is deceased – for legal purposes, the property is classed as being under unknown ownership, which means that it is exempt from an EDMO under the Housing Act 2004.

The council is currently in discussions with the executors of another empty property, and hopes to agree a voluntary purchase so it can use the property as temporary accommodation for homeless families.

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