Pressure stepped up on eyesore homes

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Doncaster Council is stepping up action against the owners of derelict and unsightly properties that affect the appearance of neighbourhoods.

Around 30 of the authority’s enforcement officers have just been trained up to use powers to force property owners to tidy properties up under Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Previously it was only housing and planning investigation officers who were trained in using the powers.

Under the Act the council can order owners to undertake a range of works including planting, clearance, tidying, fencing, painting, demolition, re-building and other repairs.

If owners refuse to restore the external appearance of a property to a reasonable condition then enforcement action may be taken.

Magistrates can issue fines of up to £1,000 for non-compliance and the council can do remedial work and recharge the owners.

A council spokesman said: “These powers have been available to us for a number of years but this is a new approach.

“By training officers who are out and about on the streets every day we can make better use of the powers and deal more efficiently with properties that are an eyesore.”

“Neglected and derelict sites are a real nuisance for the vast majority of residents who do take pride in their properties.”

One of the highest profile cases involving the law came in 2009, when the council sent a hit squad to Edward Street, Armthorpe, to tidy up a property there.

The laws were introduced in the 1990s but not implemented by many councils until 2005 when Hastings in East Sussex hit the headlines for overhauling its scruffy image when it began fining residents who refused to clean up.

Since then hundreds of households in Doncaster have been told to clear up or face legal action. Many cases have followed tip-offs from the public. Others have taken place after pro-active investigations.