Council could snap up unfinished property ‘spoiling’ beauty spot

Date published: 12 December 2018

A bungalow that has stood unfinished on the shore of a popular beauty spot for more than 20 years could be snapped up by Rochdale Council.

The partially completed home overlooks Hollingworth Lake -  one of the borough’s key tourism destinations.

Construction work began on the dwelling back in 1998, but it has been four years since there was any indication of progress from the owner, the Council has said.

The Council also said the single-storey house, at Lakeside, spoils the appearance of the area for visitors and neighbours.

Cabinet members will next week decide whether to use compulsory purchase powers to take the property into council control - as part of an ongoing initiative to bring neglected and run-down properties back into use.

A report advises members that buying the property - understood to have ‘severe structural problems’ - would bring significant benefits to the area.

It says: “Hollingworth Lake attracts visitors from across the North West region as a beauty spot and recreational area for walking, cycling and water sports. 

“The appearance of the site in question detracts from its surroundings and spoils the outlook for visitors and neighbours.

“It is therefore clearly in the public interest to see the building completed and brought to a habitable standard.”

The report notes a long-running dispute between the builder and insurer, which has been referred to the financial ombudsman, could be having a bearing on the situation.

But it adds that ‘there is no guarantee that following the conclusion of these proceedings, that the property will be redeveloped, sold or occupied’.

Recommending the use of the council’s compulsory purchase powers, it adds: “Given the long-term vacancy of the property and the lack of willingness or ability to complete the building works and make the property suitable for habitation, a compulsory purchase order (CPO) is considered to be the only mechanism available to the council to bring the condition of the building to an acceptable standard and bring it back into use.”

If cabinet votes to acquire the property, council officers will arrange for the necessary repairs to bring it up to a ‘habitable standard’ before putting it up for sale on the open market.

Council bosses say that not using the powers would lead to a too high a risk of the property remaining vacant for the medium-to-long term.

Beginning the CPO process can sometimes spur owners into action, and ward councillor Janet Emsley says it is important to resolve the issue one way or another.

She said: “It is prominent in its position around the lake, and I’ve often been following behind someone who says ‘look at that, isn’t it a shame’.

“We’re trying to progress it so something is done with it and it’s put into use - whether that’s by the owners or somebody else. If the owners would do something with it, that would be the perfect solution.”

Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter

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