A PLAN which aims to bring empty properties back into use to help regenerate town centres has been supported by Monmouthshire councillors.

The new strategy drawn up by Monmouthshire council aims to target empty properties having a detrimental impact on the community, and also to increase the availability of affordable housing.

The Welsh Government is asking councils across Wales to produce an action plan, with a particular focus on targeting empty properties in town centres.

Councils are being offered loan funding from the Welsh Government to carry out enforcement action which will help bring empty town centre properties back into use.

Five properties have been prioritised for action by Monmouthshire council as part of the plan.

At a meeting of Monmouthshire council’s adults select committee on Tuesday, Cllr Ruth Edwards said bringing empty properties back into use can make a big difference to an area.

“It does revitalise the street,” she said.

“It makes it look as though it’s a place to visit rather than [with] empty properties about.”

Cllr Martyn Groucutt said the county has a “huge problem” with housing, which the plan would help address by providing homes for people.

“I think this scheme does help us to move forward,” he said.

Ian Bakewell, Monmouthshire council’s housing and communities manager, said the plan would support the council to take enforcement action where needed.

Training has been provided to council officers and cabinet members about enforcement powers, and the support which is available, to help tackle the issue.

Mr Bakewell said the authority will seek to work with owners to bring properties back into use, but that if they do not engage enforcement action could be taken.

Cllr Louise Brown asked about the reasons why properties were being left empty in the county.

Stephen Griffiths, of Monmouthshire council, said a lot of the properties on the authority’s list had been left empty after being inherited.

Mr Bakewell added that Monmouthshire does not have as many empty properties as some other areas, but he said there are “a small number” which have been left in a poor condition.

The proposed empty property action plan will be considered for approval by the council’s cabinet at a future meeting.