Horncastle Town Council are to look into what can be done about derelict buildings in the town.
At last month’s full town council meeting, those in attendance considered a report composed by Councillor Dominic Hinkins.
In the report, Coun Hinkins said: “I would like to discuss at some point, in a future meeting, the long-term empty and derelict properties in the town centre, particularly those which are of historical significance, and those which may pose a danger to the public, as well as damaging the appearance and character of the town.
“There are various historic buildings in town which are either vacant, neglected, or undeveloped, which detract from the town’s appearance, safety, desirability, economic health and general status.
“Arguably as a result of economic pressures over previous years, this has now reached the status of epidemic, and the time has come when something must be done.
“Our duty is not only to residents and business owners, nor to the properties themselves; the general appearance of the town is one of our greatest assets, and enhancing it could pay significant dividends in tourism, attractiveness to business and residents, property values, etc.
“There are also a significant number of retail premises in Horncastle which have been empty for more than six months.
“The council should consider what actions it can take to identify the reasons for shops being empty, and what positive steps it can take to help bring them back into occupation.
“This strategy could involve various kinds of cooperation with the proprietors and/or potential lessees, or initiatives such as seeking to make the spaces available to the community, or as ‘pop up’ locations for local entrepreneurs.
“In extreme cases, where no other solution can be identified, the council could follow the successful example of the Bridge Street properties in making an offer or compulsory purchase order, to preserve/develop the property itself, and sell on, lease, or rent out for a profit.
“As well as the significant precedent for this in Bridge Street, the council is currently seeking to take on assets from ELDC with precisely this aim in mind: to preserve and enhance Horncastle’s environment, and, where appropriate, to lease buildings and land locally.”
The meeting heard that, going forward, the issue would be delegated to the planning and development committee - made up of chairman Brian Burbidge; vice chairman Richard Barker and Councillors Angela Birchall, Dominic Hinkins and Alan Lockwood.
The planning and development committee were asked to come back with a proposal on how to proceed.
The Horncastle News contacted East Lindsey District Council for a comment.
Assistant director for property, business and growth, Neil Cucksey, said: “The district council has a commitment to develop, protect and promote the area’s inland market towns, including Horncastle.
“This includes working closely with town councils to tackle issues they identify in their towns.
“In terms of vacant/unattractive buildings, we do have a range of support which businesses could potentially use to tackle this, including our Shop Front Grant Scheme and Micro Business Grant. Should someone wish to look at progressing with pop-up shops within the town, we do also have information and guidance on our website.”