A call for action to tackle the year-on-year rise in empty homes across England has been issued today (2nd May).
The report, ‘Community action on empty homes’, is said to draw together the learning from a three-year project focussed on six community-led projects bringing empty homes back to use.
Led by the Action on Empty Homes group, the report outlines the steps needed to develop a nationwide campaign to bring 216,000 long-term empty properties “back to life” across the country.
Some of the key findings of the report are:
- Communities can deliver affordable housing from otherwise wasted resources, and in doing so rebuild essential community infrastructure, offering opportunities for real life change and enhancement to local people
- Local authorities can ‘invest to save’ by supporting community-based neighbourhood regeneration approaches, including working with communities to develop neighbourhood improvement plans that tackle empty homes and the wider linked issues
- Central government should adopt an investment programme targeted at areas with long-term empty homes to enable local authorities, social landlords and community-based organisations to buy or lease empty properties to refurbish them
The report also highlights the need for government to support wider community-based regeneration approaches that tackle the “underlying causes” of empty homes.
Brighid Carey, author of the report, said: “There are positive and valuable lessons in this report, of interest to all those who are concerned with tackling the waste of empty homes across the country.
“We want to encourage the creation of more community-based partnerships, to bring empty homes into use for local people and through doing so to help address the persistent underlying issues that keep people locked into poor housing and locked out of a safe, secure and affordable home.”
Will McMahon, director of Action on Empty Homes, added: “This new report is also about building the case for a new government investment programme targeted at areas with high levels of empty homes.
“We want an investment programme, delivered through local government, to support community-based approaches that refurbish empty properties, meet the needs of local communities and tackle the underlying causes of the high levels of empty homes.”