Almost 700 homes sitting empty in Cookstown area

Empty homes
Empty homes

A spotlight has been thrown on the hundreds of empty or abandoned houses strewn across the Cookstown District.

Visitors surveying the 696 empty properties which dot the district would be forgiven for thinking that the local population had deserted their country homes in droves and moved elsewhere.

However, the majority of the houses have never been occupied in the first place.

The picture is much worse in the neighbouring Dungannon District which has 1,213 empty homes, while in Magherafelt District there are 557 unocupied properties.

It has also been revealed that across the Cookstown and Magherafelt districts, some 61 homes are registered as having no owner, which means that the local councils are missing out on over a hundred thousand pounds in rates each year.

Some of the houses are in disrepair and blighting the local landscape.

SDLP MLA for Mid Ulster, Patsy McGlone, has said that measures should be put in place to convert empty or abandoned houses in Mid Ulster into affordable homes.

Mr McGlone said: “There is a serious shortage of affordable homes across Mid Ulster, and I have been lobbying those involved in the provision of social housing to prioritise the identification and development of sites for new-builds in Mid Ulster.

“At the same time there are also a large number of empty or abandoned properties in the area.

“These houses should not be left derelict and unused when there are families in need of homes.

“Measures should be introduced to encourage the use of these empty houses to meet the need for affordable homes.

He added: “Where necessary those measures could include assistance in making sure the homes are fit for purpose.”