TWO derelict council-owned houses which have been boarded up since 2019 could cost around £90,000 to bring back into use.

The two houses on land at the paddock site near Viables Craft Centre were boarded up in June 2019 to protect them from vandalism after Plexus UK Limited – a residential property management company – terminated its lease.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council said it was investigating the possibility of using the land to relocate the ice rink from Basingstoke Leisure Park, meaning it needed to “keep vacant possession of the site”.

However, the borough’s Liberal Democrats group has labelled the homes being left empty for nearly two years as a “scandal”, reporting in their leaflet distributed to residents in the area: “We’ve been pressing the council to bring these council cottages back into use.”

They claim metal shutters fitted to the windows and door to prevent vandalism has caused “excessive damp” and that to carry out the necessary repairs to bring them back into use will cost £90,000.

Councillor John Izett, the council’s cabinet member for regeneration and property, said: “Following the departure of Plexus from the site, some of the land was investigated as one of the options as a possible location for an ice rink and also for longer term development on the wider site. So that the land could be properly considered for these uses, the council was required to keep vacant possession of the site.

“The site is no longer under consideration as a location for an ice rink and other options have been explored including offering them to registered providers for social housing.

"The council is now working with its housing partners and intend to grant them a five-year lease. The cottages require updating and services need modification in order to be habitable and this is likely to cost in the region of £90,000.”