THE MAYOR of Hexham fears the progress of several abandoned former police houses isn't enough after a site update.

For over five years, 15 properties in Fairfield, West of Hexham have been boarded up and left vacant in the middle of the town centre.

The houses were built almost 100 years ago, originally housing serving police officers and their families.

They were later let out as social housing, but tenants were asked to leave over a three-year period beginning in 2015.

Ms McGuinness’ predecessor, Vera Baird, had planned to sell the houses to bring in funds for the police – and by 2017, most of the tenants had left and the remaining homes were boarded up, leaving them derelict ever since.

The office of Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness has released a statement, saying: “The OPCC continues to talk to housing providers regarding cost efficient ways of bringing the site back into use as affordable or social housing.

“The existing properties do not meet modern housing standards, and as such there would need to be considerable investment to renovate the existing housing if it is to be retained as social housing.

“In order to keep all options open, a pre-planning application has now been submitted to Northumberland County Council to allow any future developer to demolish the existing housing stock and build new houses with modern construction methods.

"No decision on the site has been made, and the PCC continues to explore options for the site with housing providers.”

Hexham Mayor Derek Kennedy said: "I’ve been campaigning for the last four years to get these empty houses to be returned to the housing stock of Hexham.

"I think this has been a poor plan by the Police Authority to board these houses up for four years, they could have been lived in for this period until a solid housing plan was decided upon. The location is Hexham West near the school and the town centre perfect for any family.

"While I welcome a pre-planning application has finally been conducted, it is too little too late.

"At my request I have had the Police Commissioner attend council meetings to explain what is going on, but it is very underwhelming, and we seem to be still years away from a final housing solution."