>Grant Shapps has again stepped in to delay the demolition of the Welsh Streets in Liverpool. This saga has been dragging on now for seven years. So long in fact that you would be forgiven if you’d forgotten what the point of the demolition was in the first place. So here is Councillor Richard Kemp to explain. Councillor Kemp is the leader of the Liberal Democrats in local government and vice chair of the LGA, a councillor on Liverpool City council and vice chair of a housing association. He is by all accounts a highly respected figure in local government and housing circles. But he [...]
It’s hard to believe it now, but in the 1970s when I grew up the glamour football team to support was Ipswich town. It happened to be my hometown club, but their support spread far and wide. The team was filled with well-mannered, clean-cut role-models like Paul Mariner, George Burley and Mick Mills. But if you were a bit rebellious and liked your footballers cut a bit rough, there was nobody better than Eric Lazenby Gates; a grizzled and aggressive forward who always managed to look a mess but play with astonishing skill. He was the type of man who [...]
When Charles Darrow invented the Monopoly board game. He stuck this area at cheapest end of the board. Not much has changed. The Heygate estate in Elephant and Castle takes up that vast area between Walworth Road and Old Kent Road. It is one of the poorest areas in London. In the early 1990s I was called up to jury service at a trial for a series of people that had been arrested at a crack house on this estate. It wasn’t a comfortable experience. The trial revealed to me a troubled and frightening place that [...]
I think I’d rather be told straight “You’re wrong!” But ours is not the kind of issue that promotes outright opposition. The strongest resistance we normally get goes something like this “Of course I agree that bringing empty homes into use is a good idea, but in practice it’s just too difficult.”
It’s an annoying put down because it would be petulant to get cross in response. But that doesn’t mean I agree.
These words most commonly come from the lips of local authority councillors or people running housing associations. What it generally means is that they know they have to [...]
>The housing business is moaning and groaning. The housing press is sounding downbeat too. Why? Apparently our new government hasn’t had much to say on housing. It barely mentioned the subject in the coalition agreement and it has downgraded the housing minister post so the incumbent will no longer attend cabinet. Does this matter? and what do we know about the government’s willingness to do anything about getting empty homes into use? I thought it time to have a look. Firstly lets have a look at the cast:
The Cabinet Minister in charge of local government, communities and housing is Eric [...]
> Government quietly slipped some new empty homes statistics this morning. They’re still not published on their website, but can be seen here in Barbara Follet’s answer to a parliamentary question from Caroline Spellman. They show (as we anticipated) the numbers of empty homes continues to rise. The total for England now tops 764,000 the third successive annual increase. These figures show an increase of about 3% which if repeated across the whole of the UK would see the total pass 970,000. [...]
>Being a property anorak I couldn’t stop myself dragging my family around the Peckham House this weekend. It’s not empty, in fact it was full to bursting with visitors for the London open house weekend. Some of you may remember this remarkable house as one of the stars of the Grand Designs tv series. The extraordinary owners managed to create a house in the most unpromising site imaginable, with planning restrictions that would have lead most to think that there was no chance of being allowed to build anything. But not only did they gain permission, they built a house [...]
>We think we’ve got a problem. I’m in Ireland for the national social housing conference and the mood is sombre. The housing market in Ireland overheated to a quite phenomenal degree, and is now in full-scale retreat. The damage it has caused is what I have been asked here to talk about. Estimates vary, but even the most conservative say that 200,000 surplus flats have been built. Added to Ireland’s already sizeable empty homes problem it means there could be anything up to 400,000 homes standing empty. The quite extraordinary plan to be unveiled by the housing minister here [...]
>One of the commonest questions we are asked at the Empty Homes Agency goes something like this “I need a home, but I can’t afford one, can I have an empty one?”
For reasons that are pretty obvious it’s a question we are getting asked more and more often. Our answer I’m pleased to report is the Obama like “Yes you can” In fact even better than that we can sometimes even offer a choice. Our answer goes something like this:
“First of all you can borrow one. The best way to do this is through a shortlife housing cooperative. The cooperative [...]
>In yesterday’s post I mentioned some of the victims of the housing market downturn; tenants in buy-to-let properties. Many have found themselves homeless because their landlord has not kept up with mortgage repayments and had their property repossessed. If the cause were the tenant not paying their rent well fair enough perhaps, but all too often it’s no fault of the tenant at all. Most mortgage agreements contain clauses that require the landlord to seek the lenders permission to grant a tenancy. Many landlords don’t realise it’s there and others just ignore it. After all what lender is going to [...]
>Last week I reported on the truly staggering empty homes problem in the United States. The popular repost is – it could never happen here. Well possibly, but probably not for the reasons you might think
When the property market started falling last year there was much talk of what the graph would look like. Would it be a quick down and up “V”, a slower “U”, a down up down and up “W”, a down and stay down “L”, or my particular favourite analogy a down, stay down, then up “skip shape”.
A year in, with talk of property prices and [...]
>A truly mind boggling statistic. There are enough empty homes in the USA to house the whole UK population! And in case you thought that was shocking, we have enough empty homes in England alone to house the whole population of the Republic of Ireland.
>I was chairing the CIEH’s excellent empty homes conference yesterday, when at lunchtime I turned on my mobile to be confronted with “you have 16 new messages” all of them it turned out from journalists. ITV had tracked me down and were waiting outside. What on earth had provoked this?
The answer it turns out is this. Squatters in Bishops Avenue. For those of you not obsessed with the self-absorbed world of London real estate, Bishops Avenue in Hampstead is said to be Britain’s most exclusive address. Houses have changed hands here for £80million. So news that squatters were here got [...]
>Inefficiency in the public sector is always an easy target. Indeed I’m not against having a go about it myself especially when it results in property being needlessly left empty. The target today appears to be quangos. Or should I say QU.A.N.G.O.s (Quasi autonomous non government organisations). The Empty Homes Agency isn’t one in case you were wondering; we are an independent charity with no government funding.
But is inefficiency solely a problem of the public sector? If what I have heard this week is true the answer is no. Several local authorities have told me that a few national retailers [...]
>When think tank Policy Exchange published its Cities Unlimited report last year, advocating abandoning regeneration in much of the north, there was uproar. Even David Cameron who had previously been a committed Policy Exchange fan was forced to call it “barmy” “Insane and complete rubbish” John Prescott described it as “the most insulting and ignorant policy I’ve ever heard”.
So if that idea was so awful, what exactly is the difference with this? Today 10 Downing Street published it’s response to the Inside Housing Empty Promise campaign petition
In response to the general point that the Prime Minister should help reduce the [...]