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VACANT PROPERTIES: More than 800 homes owned by the Department of Transport, some purchased for road schemes, have been empty for over six months, John Watts, Minister of State for Transport, disclosed last night.

He said in a Commons written reply that 324 properties had been vacant for more than six months, and a further 504 for more than a year.

At the end of April, 250 of the total of 828 dwellings were empty "because they were either awaiting sale or demolition", he reported.

Mr Watts said that the department regularly monitored the situation and tenants were found as quickly as possible for lettable homes.

"We also constantly monitor all the properties in our portfolio so as to identify at the earliest possible opportunity those which are required for road schemes and therefore need to be demolished, and those which can be declared surplus and sold."

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