HOMES that have stood empty for a long time could be brought back into use and offered for sale at discounted prices under a proposed council scheme.

Durham County Council has worked with housing associations Dale and Valley Homes and livin to develop the homesteading scheme, which will see two and three-bedroom homes for sale from as little as £18,000.

Cabinet members will be asked to agree to give it the go-ahead when they meet at County Hall, in Durham, on Wednesday.

Loading article content

If approved, the scheme would be introduced on a pilot basis, with six council-owned homes in Coundon and eight livin properties in Ferryhill offered for sale.

There will be a 35 per cent discount off the properties’ market value, provided buyers make it their main home for at least three years in Ferryhill or five years in Coundon.

They could also get an interest-free loan towards repairs and improvements.

Coun Eddie Tomlinson, cabinet member for housing and rural issues, said: “For people struggling to buy their first home, this scheme offers a great way to take a first step on to the property ladder.

“There are areas in our county where there are a disproportionately high number of houses that are proving difficult to let and have been empty for at least six months.

“This scheme offers a new way of tackling the problem, bringing homes back into use and, by increasing owner occupation, also making our communities more sustainable.”

If the pilot scheme proves successful it will be extended to include properties in other such as Easington Colliery, Chilton, Craghead and South Moor.