THE number of long-term empty homes in the borough have reduced by 42 per cent in recent years according to the latest figures.

Statistics released by Wigan Council have found there were 2,296 homes vacant for over six months in 2010 with that total falling to 1,341 in 2016.

The number of empty homes per square kilometre also reduced from around 12 to 7 in the six-year period.

Marie Bintley, assistant director for housing and growth at the council, said: “When a property is empty it becomes a blot on the landscape and is at risk of attracting anti-social behaviour.

“Bringing empty homes and buildings back into use provides both much-needed affordable housing for families and individuals who really need them and visible benefits to the local community."

Between 2015 and 2016, there was an 18 per cent reduction in the number of empty homes which was the highest in Greater Manchester.

Around 300 of its 20,000 council houses in the borough are empty with them being in the process of being repaired, due to be re-let or earmarked for redevelopment.

The council's Empty to Plenty scheme, which was launched in 2013 and funded by the Homes and Communities Agency, will have seen at least 44 empty properties transformed by March.

A 150 per cent council tax charge for private homes empty for more than two years has also been imposed and compulsory purchase order have been issued for vacant properties which are causing a neighbourhood nuisance.

These homes are then sold in an auction.

Ms Bintley added: “We are pleased with our excellent progress on this issue and will continue our action to reduce empty homes even further in order to provide more affordable accommodation.

"We will also tackle the neighbourhood problems empty homes can cause.

“The council is always willing to speak to owners of empty properties to help bring them back into use."