NEARLY 300 empty houses in Herefordshire, many derelict and vandalised, could be refurbished for families in need if a plan by a community housing charity gets off the ground.

Owners of the houses could sell the houses or get them refurbished for free if they are willing to come forward to take part.

The Roots charity has been liaising with local councils across England to compile a list of the number of empty homes in each area.

In Herefordshire it amounts to 273 that have been empty long term.

Compiling the list is the first step in trying to work with local councils and owners to get the houses lived in again.

It is estimated 8.4 million people in England are living in "unaffordable, insecure or unsuitable homes".

Roots has built up contacts with developers who are ready to buy the homes to redevelop and sell on.

Alternatively, owners can lease them for free to the charity, who arrange for them to be refurbished and returned to their owner three to five years later at current market value.

Roots are interested in abandoned commercial properties, as well as homes.

Roots is appealing for owners to contact them via