In addition to the 762,700 empty homes across England, there is at least the same number of empty redundant commercial and offices buildings that could be converted to provide good quality homes.
The fall in private sector empties is welcome news. However with a total of still 623,200 it still means that 4 out of every 5 empty homes in England are in the private sector.
The official statistics show a further rise in the number of empty council homes, up by 3,300 on the 1999 figure, this at a time when the rate of stock transfers is increasing.
Despite the rapid growth in this sector over recent years due to stock transfers and new developments this rise means that an increased proportion of housing association homes now stand empty compared to 1999 (2.8% as opposed to 2.7%).
Government departments do not appear to be taking seriously the Government’s own advice about best use of redundant and unused stock. The Agency again calls into question the total accuracy of these figures. In the past many MoD houses as well as residential properties owned by NHS Trusts have not been reported, particularly halls of residence and bedsit accommodation.
In October last year during the London Week of Action on Empty Homes Glenda Jackson called for all London Boroughs to share information and good practice to stimulate the re-use of empty properties. The Empty Homes Agency has responded by publishing a guide on providing homes from wasted properties, which will be launched on January 19th at a major seminar at the Lloyds Building.