>In the early 1990s empty homes owned by the military became a national scandal. Thousands of homes for service people were left empty causing public outrage at a time of record homelessness. To be fair to the military changing defence needs caused by the end of the cold war had caused many properties to become surplus. But the MOD proved ineffective in dealing with them. In one of the Empty Homes Agency’s first campaigns we said that surplus military homes should be used to house those in housing need. The government responded, and in 1996 they took a dramatic step [...]
I have been resisting the temptation to post anything about so-called posh squats up until now. They appear to be getting plenty of publicity without my help. Today, however, I have spoken to six journalists about them, including, if she will forgive me for bracketing her in such company, Vanessa Feltz. There is no doubt that this has become a big story.
It started in Brighton, then Upper Grovesnor Street, then Green Park and now Park Lane. Some of the poshest addresses in the UK have become squatted by what appears to be a new breed of lifestyle squatters. In total [...]
>There was one place where culture and empty properties did meet in Liverpool. Artist Richard Wilson created what many called the most daring piece of public art in Britain – Turning the Place Over. It was installed in an empty building in a side street in Liverpool’s city centre. I remember stumbling upon it by accident last year without ever having heard about it before. For sheer surprise value I think it was the best way to see it. Sadly the motor has now been turned off, but it lives on in You Tube.
>Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture ended last week, and there has been much discussion as to what sort of legacy it will leave. It has certainly made a change to have a positive spotlight on what for me is one of this country’s greatest cities.
With the enormous new “Liverpool One” shopping centre taking shape, a revitalised Pier Head and a new cruise liner dock their can be little doubt that the city centre is looking forward with confidence.
A mile or two away however and regeneration of Liverpool’s housing stock looks less rosy. Anfield contains a greater volume of [...]
>I spent part of Christmas in my hometown of Ipswich. Being on holiday I was not on empty homes alert, but I could hardly miss this. When these waterfront homes were first planned a decade ago they were supposed to help turn the town from a working port into an executive service based economic hub. It hasn’t worked. The port has disappeared downstream, but the executives never really materialised. Like almost everywhere else in the UK the population of Ipswich is filled with ordinary people who need homes at ordinary prices. Instead what they’ve got is homes built for a [...]
>2008 was the year the housing industry’s chickens finally came home to roost; the year when people stopped buying shoddy homes thrown up by speculators, and when they said no to ever-rising prices.
But look what we are left with. A housing market so dysfunctional that despite record levels of housing need, we have the retched sight of nearly a million empty homes. And policy so out of touch;that perfectly good homes are being destroyed to make way for regeneration projects that will never happen. It’s time to think again about who controls our housing.
At heart I’m an optimist. What gives [...]