Council starts action over Tesco empty homes

PUBLISHED: 19:54 24 September 2008 | UPDATED: 13:37 06 May 2010

TESCO could find itself going head to head with St Albans District Council over empty city-centre houses. The supermarket giant had included the vacant properties in London Road, St Albans, in its planning application for a 6,430 square metres superstore

TESCO could find itself going head to head with St Albans District Council over empty city-centre houses.

The supermarket giant had included the vacant properties in London Road, St Albans, in its planning application for a 6,430 square metres superstore on the former Evershed's site which was refused in June this year.

Since then pressure has been put on Tesco to submit a standalone application for the houses which would bring them back into some sort of residential use.

And while Tesco has agreed to submit a separate application for the properties, council officers have been told to start proceedings using Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO) powers.

The decision follows a meeting with Tesco earlier this month at which the council acknowledged that the supermarket giant had given undertakings to clear rubbish from the site and keep the properties secure and the gardens tidy.

Tesco has also worked with Oaklands College to provide art on the windows of the properties to make them look more attractive than just boarded-up houses.

But council leader, Cllr Robert Donald, said he was still very concerned at the continued vacancy of the houses particularly as Tesco had indicated that they expected to let two properties by the end of August with another four let by the end of the year.

He added: "This will not now be the case. I regarded the reasons given for this not happening as both disappointing and unsatisfactory. I made it clear that as a result council officers would urgently need to consider again using their EDMO powers to ensure real progress is rapidly made. I have now formally asked that council officers start using these powers."

Cllr Donald added: "Not only do we need to make this accommodation available for those in housing need in the district as soon as possible rather than possibly in 18 months time but residents and visitors alike deserve to have this important gateway into the city tidied up now."

Nick Gellatly, Tesco corporate affairs managers, said that the properties had originally been earmarked for demolition but following consultations they had agreed to retain and refurbish them as part of the store development.

He stressed that they would be submitting a standalone application to bring them back into residential use.

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