The Government has appointed architect and television presenter George Clarke as an independent advisor to try to bring thousands of empty homes back into use.
Despite there being a housing stock shortage, 720,000 homes are left empty across the country. 280,000 of these have been empty for over six months. To try to remedy this, Ministers have announced £150 million funding to bring empty homes back into use as affordable housing. £70 million of this funding will go to councils to put 5,600 empty homes back into use. £30 million will go to community groups. The remaining £50 million will be used to deal with clusters of empty homes.
In his role as independent advisor on empty homes, George Clarke will particularly focus on:
– Promoting bringing empty homes back into use
– Raising public awareness of the benefits of bringing empty homes back into use and encouraging people to report empty homes in their area
– Encouraging councils, housing associations and voluntary groups to identify innovative and good ideas and sharing this across communities
– Challenging Government and other public bodies to ensure publicly-owned homes are not left empty; and
– Exploring whether current plans for demolition in councils could be scaled back
On his appointment, George Clarke commented:
“There are hundreds of thousands of empty homes that could and should be saved from the bulldozers and refurbished.”
The presenter of channel 4 series ‘The Great British Property Scandal’ added that “I totally support the building of new homes when it’s necessary but not when it’s cheaper and quicker to refurbish empty homes than to build from scratch. It can be kinder to communities and the environment — and it makes sense in these tough economic times.”
Housing minister Grant Schapps said “George Clarke has been a phenomenal campaigner against the scourge of Empty Homes. His popular Great British Property Scandal programme raised the issue up the agenda.” He added that “the number of empty homes has fallen in the last two years. Now we hope to accelerate that work further with £150 million of investment and George Clarke as our Empty Homes Advisor.”
Looking at trying to solve the housing stock shortage in the UK at the moment, this funding may have limited effect. However, taken with the NewBuy
scheme also announced by the Government, these housing policies may help stimulate the economy and the housing market.
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