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Derelict Buildings

Volume 563: debated on Monday 3 June 2013

1. What recent steps his Department has taken to encourage the sharing of best practice between local authorities on using their powers to repair derelict buildings. (157158)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State apologises for his absence today; he is at an important trade mission in India. However, his thoughts and those of the whole House will be with the family and friends of Drummer Lee Rigby.

Local authorities have powers under planning, environmental and local government legislation to intervene to bring derelict buildings back into use. Our best practice guidance sets out those powers, and we believe that local authorities should use them proactively.

Will the Minister join me in urging councils to use their full powers, especially section 215 notices, to tackle the problem of derelict buildings, given that many of them are not currently doing so? Will he also publish a full list of English councils showing their use of section 215 notices over the past three years?

I congratulate my hon. Friend on the work he is doing to encourage councils to do more to tackle the blight caused by derelict and empty buildings in town centres such as Wisbech in his constituency. As I said, we have published the best practice guidance relating to section 215 notices, and we will certainly do more, if we can, to encourage councils to use those powers. I will also look at his suggestion.