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Highland Council Press Release (27/08/13) - Plans underway to bring life back to vacant city properties

City Leader Ian Brown is to push for speedy implementation of Priority Action Status for the city centre to tackle the long term problem of empty city centre properties that with imagination and innovation could be used for much needed housing.

Priority Action Status should see empty properties on the first floor and above in the city converted to provide residential accommodation.

The priority actions identified in the Plan include proposals to update the City Centre Development Brief, the promotion of key development sites in Inverness and other town centres, provision of a flexible approach to development proposals for changes of use in properties on the first floor and above and an emphasis on working with building owners to highlight opportunities for residential development. 

City Leader, Councillor Ian Brown believes the move is vital.  He said: “Ensuring vacant properties in our city centre are brought back into productive use is a key priority of the Council.  I really feel that bringing people back to live and work in our city is critical to creating a vibrant and sustainable environment. This is about business and jobs for the city ultimately.”

Council Leader Drew Hendry who leads for the City Region on the Seven Cities Alliance added:  “The focus of the Priority Action Status is very much on providing help to allow people to convert empty properties on the first floor and above and rent out the accommodation.  Our Council team will be providing advice and working with developers to make sure procedures are dealt with as efficiently as possible.  We will also have specialists from the housing service to give property owners help.  This joined-up approach complements the other initiatives we have in place, including the work of the Empty Homes officer the Council has appointed to work with property owners to increase the amount of residential use in our centres. This can easily be applied to other towns across the Highlands.”

Chairman of The Council’s Planning, Environments and Development Committee, Councillor Thoma s Prag said:  “The Highland Council’s Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan sets out a strategy for town centres and the city to be afforded Priority Action Status.  This gives us the ability to help landlords’ progress property changes.   A report on progress and details of how the project will operate will be presented to the Planning Environment and Development Committee on 18 September 2013.” 

ENDS

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