From crumbling eyesore to top drawer - the story of the Horbury home that was left empty for 20 years

Once ravaged by rats and a magnet for anti-social behaviour, this four bed home was a battered and boarded wreck for 20 years.

Tuesday, 29th September 2020, 7:00 am
The home has been completely transformed and changed hands last year. Pictures from Wakefield Council.

A serious fire compounded its problems, leaving the semi-detached Horbury property gutted and in a dire state.

Now, however, its appearance couldn't be more different, after changing hands and undergoing a huge transformation last year.

Pictures show how the dingy eyesore littered with burnt doors, rotten debris and ancient white goods, has been completely renovated and refitted with bright and modern furnishings, making it a more than adequate family home.

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A fire seriously gutted the property, which the council eventually boarded up.

The much-needed revamp came after Wakefield Council's empty homes team built up a relationship with the building's owner and persuaded her to sell it on in 2019.

A report by the local authority said that the process was riddled with complications, including the home's deeds being destroyed in the fire and no record of land registry left.

But eventually potential buyers were shown around the property and it changed hands. It's understood the home is now occupied for the first time this millennium.

In the report, which was published last week, Councillor Darren Byford, the authority's portfolio holder for regeneration, said: "Due to its location, and unkempt appearance, the building has been subject to anti-social behaviour, break-ins and has also attracted pests, leading to numerous complaints from neighbours and residents of Horbury.

The house is now more than fit for habitation.

"The empty homes team have been working with the owner for over 15 years to bring the property back in to use and address the issues causing the complaints.

"The team took enforcement action some years ago to have it boarded up and secured, although due to its prominent position on the main road in to Horbury it has always been a property that needed to be renovated.

"In 2019, the empty homes team managed to build up a relationship with the property owner and finally got her to agree to sell the property.

"It then came to light that there were several issues to resolve before the sale could go ahead, involving probate and executor issues, as well as the deeds having being destroyed in the house fire and there being no record on land registry, all making a legally complex situation.

Abandoned crockery and white goods littered the derelict home.

"Late 2019, all issues were finally resolved, and the owner provided the keys to the empty homes team to arrange an open day to show investors round the property."

Coun Byford said that the former owner had received six offers for the property once it was refurbished, accepting one which was above the original asking price.

Shortly afterwards, the council hiked tax on empty properties to help force inactive landlords to sell.

The home eventually sold for more than the original asking price after six offers were lodged, the council said.

Local Democracy Reporting Service