HUNDREDS of new-build homes in Wokingham borough are laying empty as the coronavirus lockdown grinds the housing market to a halt.

As well as the 483 empty new-build homes, there are 90 empty homes in the borough which have been empty for more than two years.

Details on how many empty homes there are, and what impact that has on the council tax payer, were revealed by councillor John Kaiser, lead for finance and housing, at an executive meeting at Wokingham Borough Council on April 22.

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Cllr Kaiser said: “There are 92 homes which are empty but exempt from council tax.

“Examples of exemptions apply are when somebody is receiving care in a nursing home, or when the owner has died or gone to prison, or the property is owned by a charity.”

There are 90 homes which have been empty for more than two years, and 80 of these are liable to pay twice as much council tax as normal, because they have been empty for so long, he said.

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There are 483 finished new-build homes in the borough, which people haven’t moved into yet, and in total about 1,200 homes which have been empty for between a day and two years.

The council currently has 29 empty houses, which are waiting for work to be done before they’re allocated to people on the social housing waiting list. The council has another 24 homes which are empty and “waiting decision on their further use”, Cllr Kaiser said.

Cllr Kaiser was answering a public question from Peter Denis, who asked if the number of empty homes affects how much council tax the council raises and the local plan update — which will guide where new homes are built in the borough up to 2036.

Mr Denis said: “With that number of houses, what impact does that have on the local plan update and the reduction in council tax revenue?”

Cllr Kaiser said only the 483 empty new-build homes would affect the local plan, with the rest not affecting the housing numbers.

He added: “On the other issue, around income, we collect income from all the homes except the 92 homes which are for people who are in some sort of distress situation.

“We collect normal council tax from the 1,200 which have been unoccupied for one day to two years. And we collect twice as much on the 90 homes which have been empty for more than two years.

“So the impact, really, is not a lot I guess.”