This week, the public is being asked to identify empty properties in an effort to restore homes to use, and “cost-effectively” combat the increasing demand for housing.
The campaign group Empty Homes has launched the survey to coincide with National Empty Homes Week. Last week the group announced that their studies have already identified 726, 000 empty houses in England.
The public appeal is supported by homelessness charity Shelter, who campaign for the availability of affordable housing.
Lewisham residents have already reported 59 previously unknown empty houses to the survey, which last year identified 2,458 disused properties in Lewisham.
Councillor Susan Wise, Lewisham Council cabinet member for customer services suggested that the relatively high figures were a result of sound record keeping, claiming that Lewisham is “at the forefront of tackling empty properties.”
“Unlike many other councils, we actively encourage local people to report empty properties. It’s for this reason that we have both one of the highest numbers of recorded empty properties but also the highest number of properties brought back into use.”
Empty Homes chief executive David Ireland said that his survey’s national figures showed a worrying failure to exploit the opportunities offered by empty properties.
“House building is at an all time low, housing need at an all time high, and yet still the numbers of empty homes are rising,” he said.
“The government has announced it will make £100 million available to help get empty homes into use. We want people to have a say where it needs to be spent. Getting homes into use is a cost-effective way of creating more housing. But we want to see this money spent where it will provide homes and make a real difference to people.”
If you’re aware of a derelict or unused property you can report here.
More information about empty homes, and the campaign can be found here.