Campaign for Community Investment
No community left behind - The campaign for community-based regeneration in areas with high levels of empty homes
Empty Homes is building a coalition to campaign for government investment in community-based regeneration for areas with high levels of empty homes.
A national problem with dreadful local impacts:
Across the country there are over 200,000 long-term empty homes (properties which have been empty for over six months).
Many of these are concentrated in neighbourhoods in the North of England and the Midlands, but there are also concentrations in neighbourhoods in the South, particularly in coastal towns.
Neighbourhoods with high levels of empty homes tend to have lower house prices, higher levels of deprivation and lower than average household incomes than the rest of England. Our research also demonstrates that they have higher levels of private rented sector housing and that higher proportions of this accommodation do not meet the decent homes standard.
These are neighbourhoods which feature high perceived levels of problems, ranging across poorer educational and health outcomes to higher levels of crime and anti-social behaviour. These are what are often referred to as England’s ‘left behind communities’.
Whose homes are these?
The majority of empty homes in England are privately owned. Many require renovation to be brought back into use. Frequently homes remain empty because of the owners’ lack of capital to invest in such renovation, coupled with the inadequate financial returns on offer, through either sale or rental, to underwrite borrowing which could fund repairs; or to incentivise its owners to dispose of the property through sale.
The impact of high levels of empty homes can be seen in a vicious cycle of poor housing standards and decline in the perceived desirability of neighbourhoods, as the perception grows that these are not places people would choose to live. Yet these are still areas facing housing need, in local authorities where housing waiting lists out-strip housing supply. Areas like this require stimulation and investment.
Turning things around for England’s left behind communities:
Empty Homes believe that the best approach to tackling this blight on our left-behind neighbourhoods is through community-based regeneration. This involves enabling local organisations to take action on bringing property back into use and to tackle the underlying causes of neighbourhood decline.
Relatively small capital investments, or simply access to borrowing against these properties, could help invigorate such areas, if coupled with local action to tie such regeneration to local supply chains, training and jobs – creating a virtuous circle of social renewal and community re-investment.
Partnerships that involve the community, private and statutory sectors can revive these communities.
We want central government to support community-led regeneration approaches to re-energise the economy of these communities and release their economic potential.
And we want other interested organisations to join us in our campaign to give local people and innovative organisations across England the tools to change their communities for the better.
This isn’t an aspiration, it’s an approach based on successful and effective local experience, we just need more of it and we need to make it easier to achieve, quicker to finance; and to help different localities to learn from each other. Because 200,000 empty homes is too many. And the waste has to stop, now.
Help Empty Homes build a better future for England’s blighted neighbourhoods and end the waste of empty homes.
The Autumn Budget introduced welcome new powers for local authorities to ‘tax’ empty homes - but this is likely to prove no more than ‘half a job’ ... Read More
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Campaign for Community Investment
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