Fears Lacock is a “dying village” with empty houses

Lacock is a “dying village” with more than a dozen empty houses that have been sitting vacant for years, according to a concerned resident.

Following the deaths of several elderly occupants, a tenant said: “Lacock is a dying village. There are at least 12 empty properties and it could be more. Another man died this weekend.

“It’s just sad because Lacock is a very unique village and the houses are going to fall apart and go bankrupt. Some of them have been empty for two years now.

“It is not a good policy to keep these very old houses empty because they get wet. Like all homes, if you don’t have heat, they get damp. Where we are, there is no double glazing, or anything like that.

“We are told that people need houses, but they have become too expensive for normal people. It’s just very sad.

“There is a lot of resentment within Lacock, not particularly against the National Trust as such, but for their policies.”

The retiree, around 70, fears the high rents charged by the National Trust, which owns 90 properties in Lacock housing around 460 people out of a population of just over 900, may be contributing to the problem.

“I’ve never experienced a housing situation like this because everyone wants to live here,” she said.

“It’s sad because we don’t welcome the youngest. You can have mortgages for less than what they pay.

“I mean £ 1,500 for a house in the village, but you can’t park outside. That’s a lot of money.”

Rents in the village range from £ 750 to £ 3,000 per month, but Ian Wilson, deputy director of operations for the National Trust, has dismissed claims that the popular and picturesque village is dying because rents are unaffordable.

Mr Wilson said: “We don’t have a problem. When we go out to rent properties, we are usually oversubscribed.

He says trust is spinning properties as quickly as possible, given the challenges of managing historic homes and additional hurdles from Covid.

Nine homes are currently empty and the trust recently rented four, he says. The trust is in the process of offering two more and two or three more will hit the market in the new year.

The National Trust typically invests between £ 250,000 and £ 300,000 annually in the maintenance and renovation of its properties in Lacock.

Mr Wilson said: “There is the added legacy of Covid. We have not been able to maintain and renovate the properties due to the pandemic. As a charity, we suspended the investment program. We focused our spending on the properties where people lived.

“The longest vacant property we have in Lacock has been empty for about 18 months. The others have been vacant for six to twelve months, which basically corresponds to the period of Covid. ”

Lacock Parish Council President Jane Durrant said she was working with the trust to fill the houses as soon as possible.

“We pushed the National Trust on this. They invest in properties and get them back to market as quickly as possible, ”she said.

“Two have been recently renovated and are in the process of being rented out – people are expected to move in in the New Years.

“Some properties take a lot of work and a lot of investment to bring them up to standard, especially when it comes to energy efficiency levels and things like that.

“The National Trust is working on it slowly, but only has a certain budget.

“But they certainly have plans in place now to work on these properties. Some of them need more than £ 100,000 to spend there.

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