Empty Homes Week 2016

The 2016 National Empty Homes Week took place between 28 November and 2 December. You can see a selection of news about it below, and if you are on Twitter you can also see what people tweeted at #emptyhomesweek.


Empty Homes Week is all about community-led organisations, local authorities and other interested bodies holding events and putting out information to celebrate their achievements in bringing empty homes back into use. They can also set out their future plans and the case for making the most of empty properties to meet housing needs.

Round up of news and events for Empty Homes Week

Brent council

Brent Council marked Empty Homes Week with a ceremony to officially open Prospect House in Stonebridge which now provides 17 affordable homes in what had been a commercial building that had been empty since 2011. Brent Council worked in partnership with the owner and Shepherds Bush Housing Association who now manage the homes created. The homes are a mix of studio, one bedroom and two bedroom flats. Many of the residents were previously homeless and had been living in bed and breakfast accommodation.  Brent reflected how this project was part of its wider success in bringing empty homes back into use over the last year.


For more information:



Building and Social Housing Foundation

Building and Social Housing Foundation (BSHF) is using Empty Homes Week to celebrate the achievements of their World Habitat Awards projects over the years with a focus on empty properties across the globe.  One of the World Habitat Awards finalists this year is a community-led regeneration project in Liverpool, led by the Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust.  BSHF reflect that the project managed to halt the demolition of homes in the Granby area and push for the renovation of homes for 250 families.  In the previous year, Canopy and Giroscope operating in Leeds and Hull were winners took home the World Habitat Award for their projects that worked to provide training for homeless and vulnerable people and to renovate abandoned properties and bring them back into use.

For more information: https://www.bshf.org/news/news-updates/empty-properties-transformed-affordable-homes-real-solution/


Bolton Council

Bolton Council is using Empty Homes Week to encourage more empty property owners to use the services they offer to reduce the number of vacant properties in the area. The Council is providing interest free loans of up to £20,000 for homes that have been empty for more than six months to bring the property up to a suitable standard for renting. Help to owners is also provided through the online Matchmaker Scheme which matches empty homes with potential buyers. In addition, the Borough Council offers advice about how to rent out properties through the Bolton Landlord Accreditation Scheme.

For more information: http://www.bolton.gov.uk/website/news/Pages/Councilbringingemptyhomesintouse.aspx

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Cambridge City Council

During Empty Homes Week, Cambridge City Council is calling its residents to action to tackle the issue of empty homes. The aim is to encourage people to report empty properties in the area, and owners to discuss possible alternatives with the City Council. The City Council is promoting its not-for-profit letting agency, Town Hall Lettings, which offers owners a property management service and provides people in need of housing with affordable rented accommodation of a good standard.

For more information: https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/news/2016/11/25/residents-asked-to-help-council-build-on-its-success-with-empty-homes


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Camden Council

Camden Council celebrated Empty Homes Week with tenants, who had been in temporary accommodation, signing up to move into Glenross House that had been empty for a number of years but now provides 18 affordable homes. The Council also used the Week to reflect on its empty homes work reporting “in the last five years the Council has returned a total of 430 empty privately-owned homes into use”. The council has also called on the Government to do more to help. Councillor Pat Callaghan, Cabinet Member for Housing at Camden Council, said: “We’re determined to provide Camden residents with affordable and secure homes. Getting empty homes back into use can be a complex and expensive process, and with a London-wide housing crisis, we must have greater support from Government to tackle the scandal of unoccupied homes. We’ll also continue to build housing for all through our Community Investment Programme, while providing genuinely affordable private rents through our housing company Camden Living.”


For more information: http://news.camden.gov.uk/making-a-house-a-home-delighted-residents-move-into-glenross-following-renovation/


Canopy Housing

Canopy Housing has used Empty Homes Week to reflect more generally on the large number of long-term empty homes in England, and the opportunities these empty properties have to house the increasing number of people in Britain becoming homeless every day.

For more information: https://www.facebook.com/canopyhousing/?fref=nf


Cherwell District Council

During Empty Homes Week, Cherwell District Council will be running a drop-in session for both owners and people interested in the renovation of empty homes, to receive advice from the empty property officer. The District Council has sent a leaflet to owners of empty homes publicising the drop-in session and the advice and assistance available locally to bring properties back into use. This includes grants to refurbish properties where the Council can then nominate someone in housing need. There is also a local loans scheme for owners to repair or improve empty homes. The Council is also seeking opportunities to create housing in unused commercial properties that could be converted to create housing.

For more information: http://www.cherwell.gov.uk/media/pdf/j/1/Empty_Homes_Newsletter_-_November_2016.pdf


Corby Borough Council

For Empty Homes Week, Corby Borough Council is reflecting on the work that has been done since 2012, and on the opportunities that lie ahead. The Council is promoting the work it is doing to deliver more affordable homes from empty commercial spaces in the town center.

For more information: http://www.corby.gov.uk/celebrating-successes-empty-homes-week


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For Empty Homes Week, the local councils across the county have issued a joint newsletter covering the work they are doing on empty homes. They highlight the projects they are currently running and the advice and assistance available to owners of empty properties.


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In addition, Carlisle City Council is hosting an event, on Friday 2 December, with the participation of all the local authorities in the county. The theme will be “Solutions and opportunities for empty property owners in Carlisle and Cumbria”.

For more information: http://www.carlisle.gov.uk/Residents/Housing-and-Homeless/Private-Housing


Exeter City Council

For Empty Homes Week, Exeter City Council is encouraging people to report empty homes to the council. They are also highlighting the availability locally of low-cost loans and a letting and matchmaking scheme, as well as their private sector leasing scheme whereby the Council can lease and manage properties on a two year basis.

For more information: https://exeter.gov.uk/national-empty-homes-week-2016/


Hull City Council

Hull City Council is using Empty Homes Week to highlight what has been done in the city since 2012 to bring empty properties back into use, through a collaborative approach with partners from the private and social housing sectors. It is also highlighting the multiple benefits that come from bringing empty properties back into use from improving neighbourhoods and supplying needed affordable housing.

For more information see the article written by Councillor John Black, Hull City Council portfolio holder for housing, on the Monday 28 November edition of the Hull Daily Mail.


Ipswich Borough Council

Ipswich Borough Council is using Empty Homes Week to encourage people to report long-term empty homes to the Borough Council. It is also promoting the availability of its Empty Homes Renovation Grants of up to £10,000, if the home has been empty for more than a year.

For more information:



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Kent County Council – No Use Empty

Kent County Council and Shepway District Council are hosting a visit to Shepway for our director Helen Williams on 29th November to highlight how Kent County Council’s loans scheme and partnership working across the County with district councils, property owners and housing providers continues to ensure that empty properties are being bought back into use.

For more information:



Knowsley Borough Council

For Empty Homes Week, Knowsley Borough Council has launched its new Empty Homes Strategy for the next five years. View the full strategy at the following link: http://www.knowsley.gov.uk/knowsleycouncil/media/Documents/empty-homes-strategy-2016-2021.pdf

For more information: http://www.knowsley.gov.uk/residents/housing/support-with-an-empty-house/support-with-an-empty-house


In the news: http://www.yourmovemagazine.com/knowsley-council-launches-empty-homes-strategy/21946



Lancaster and Morecambe – Methodist Action

Local press coverage looks at the work Methodist Action has done since 2012 to bring empty properties back into use to provide affordable housing and its plan to bring a further 125 empty properties back into use in the next three years. It also looks at the partnership Methodist Action has with Lancaster City Council with the Council funding a further programme for the next three years.

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Land Aid is using Empty Homes Week to call on property companies to donate to its ‘Sponsor a Home’ initiative to support organisations to bring empty homes back into use for young people facing homelessness. At the start of Empty Homes Week, Land Aid has announced that it received a £30,000 donation from each of the property companies Palmer Capital and Shaftesbury. Shaftesbury’s contribution will be used to convert derelict flats above a row of shops in North Shields into three new flats run by YMCA North Tyneside to provide housing for young people. In Leeds, Palmer Capital’s donation will enable Canopy Housing to renovate a derelict two-bed terraced home and provide construction training for future tenants.

In the news: http://www.economicvoice.com/empty-homes-week-landaid-secures-new-donations-to-transform-derelict-buildings/


Leeds - Empty Homes Doctor

Empty Homes Doctor celebrated Empty Homes Week by announcing how they have helped to bring over 200 empty homes back in to use in Leeds since 2013. Empty Homes Doctor had a busy week promoting their service via social media and sharing case studies that highlight how their support service works and the ways in which they have been supporting empty homes owners in Leeds, you can view some of the case studies here www.emptyhomesdoctor.org.uk/success.php

They also used their social media pages to raise awareness and share #emptyhomesweek stories and information www.twitter.com/EmptyHomesDoc and www.facebook.com/Emptyhomesdoctor.


The Nationwide Foundation

The Nationwide Foundation have been using Empty Homes Week to highlight the important role of community-led groups in creating affordable housing for those in housing need through empty properties. The Nationwide Foundation also reflect that in the absence of central government funding that community-led organisations “face a greater challenge” and note that grants, such as those given by the Nationwide Foundation and LandAid earlier this year were in high demand – the two foundations committed over £1.7m in 2016 to empty homes projects across the UK. The Nationwide Foundation conclude “converting empty homes can’t single-handedly solve the housing supply crisis, nevertheless it still offers a significant opportunity to provide genuinely affordable homes, more cheaply than building new homes”.

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North East Lincolnshire Council

North East Lincolnshire Council is using Empty Homes Week to promote the advice and assistance available in the local area to bring empty properties back into use. As part of this, the Council are running a drop-in session for owners of empty properties, as well as developers and individuals interested in renovating empty properties.

For more information: https://www.nelincs.gov.uk/breathe-new-life-empty-home-supporting-empty-homes-week-2016/

In the news: http://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/council-s-crackdown-on-blight-of-empty-properties-in-grimsby/story-29940301-detail/story.html


Northumberland County Council – Empty Property Forum (North East)

Through the Empty Property Forum, Northumberland County Council in collaboration with other local councils in the North East, are using Empty Homes Week to raise awareness about the problematic nature of empty homes, and the opportunities that lie in their renovation. The Empty Property Forum aims to coordinate solutions to both empty homes and housing shortages.

Further information: http://www.northumberland.gov.uk/News/2016/Nov/Could-empty-homes-help-solve-the-housing-crisis.aspx


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Oxford City Council

Figures released by Oxford City Council to coincide with Empty Homes Week “show that Oxford has 505 empty dwellings, with 247 having been empty for more than six months while 76 have been unoccupied for more than two years”. The City Council also used the week to reflect on its work to tackle empty homes, including pursuing the compulsory purchase of a long term empty home which was last occupied in 1989. The City Council also promoted its work to provide advice and information to owners on bringing dwellings back into use.

Further information:



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Plymouth City Council

Plymouth City Council is using Empty Homes Week to promote its empty homes work. The City Council is highlighting its refreshed Plan for Empty Homes, launched earlier this year. £1 million has been allocated to help bring 375 empty homes back into use by 2021.

For more information: http://www.plymouth.gov.uk/sites/default/files/PlanEmptyHomes.pdf


Councillor Steve Ricketts, Cabinet Member for Transport and Housing Delivery for Plymouth City Council recently visited one of the families who moved into ASA House where, as part of the City Council’s empty homes work, 30 affordable flats were created from an empty building that used to be a job centre.

See the full video of the visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUlujePl6sQ

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For more information: http://plymouthnewsroom.co.uk/empty-homes-week-28-november-2-december-2016/


Stockport Homes

Stockport Homes used empty homes week to set out how it works in partnership Stockport Council to bring empty homes back into use and its determination to do more.

For more information:



Self Help Housing

Self Help Housing is using Empty Homes Week to call for another Empty Homes Community Grants Programme to bring empty properties back into use to meet housing need. Jon Fitzmaurice OBE Director of Self Help Housing says that “Between 2012-15 the government financed a successful £50m Empty Homes Community Grants Programme ( EHCGP) which created 1,500 homes from empty properties. ” He goes on to say that “Around 100 community based organisations were able to access funding to provide affordable rented accommodation for people in housing need, while at the same time often offering training and employment to local people and contributing to street level regeneration”. “Jon makes the case for some of the additional funding announced in the Autumn Statement 2016 to be used to fund another Community Grants Programme

For more information:




South Northamptonshire Council

During Empty Homes Week, South Northamptonshire Council will be running a drop-in session for both owners and people interested in the renovation of empty homes, to receive advice from the empty property officer. The Council has sent a leaflet to owners of empty homes publicising the drop-in session and the advice and assistance available locally to bring properties back into use. The includes the possibility of the Council leasing the property to let to people in housing need. The Council is also seeking opportunities to create housing in unused commercial properties that could be converted to create housing.

For more information: http://www.southnorthants.gov.uk/EmptyHomesNewsletterWeb.pdf


South Ribble Borough Council

For Empty Homes Week, South Ribble Borough Council is launching a £100,000 scheme to bring empty properties back into use. The programme is being run in collaboration with Methodist Action (North West) who will help oversee the works and organise for tenants to move into the property. The income generated from the first three years’ rent will be used to repay the council, with the aim of this being a self-funded scheme. The council is running a drop-in session during Empty Homes Week for people who want to find out more.

For more information: http://www.southribble.gov.uk/content/%C2%A3100000-lifeline-owners-empty-properties


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Stockport Borough Council

During Empty Homes Week, Stockport Borough Council is highlighting how it works with Stockport Homes (the council’s housing company) to bring empty properties back into use as affordable housing.

For more information: http://www.stockporthomes.org/about-us/media/latest-news/corporate/empty-homes-week-supported-by-stockport-homes/


Stroud District Council

Stroud District Council is taking advantage of Empty Homes Week to promote its interest-free loans, up to £15,000, for owners of properties that have been empty for more than twelve months. The loans are available to bring properties back into use as affordable housing. The aim is to reduce the number of empty homes and increase the availability of affordable homes in the district.

For more information:: https://www.stroud.gov.uk/news-archive/stroud-district-council-announces-initiative-for-national-empty-homes-week-2016

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Teignbridge District Council

During Empty Homes Week, Teignbridge District Council is highlighting its work to reduce the number of empty homes in the area. The District Council is highlighting the case-by-case approach it takes to working with property owners.

For more information: https://www.teignbridge.gov.uk/article/22471/Teignbridge-reduces-empty-homes-for-the-ninth-year-in-a-row---21112016

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City of York Council, Selby District Council and Hunters Property Group Partnership

The partnership of City of York Council, Selby District Council and Hunters Property Group, is using Empty Homes Week to encourage local property owners to get information and advice on how to bring long-term empty homes back into use.

For further information: https://www.york.gov.uk/press/article/2018/new_partnership_to_return_more_long-term_empty_homes_into_use



In the news: http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/14932586.Efforts_to_bring_empty_homes_back_into_use/


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