The ArgusThousands of Sussex homes lie empty (From The Argus)

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Thousands of Sussex homes lie empty

The Argus: Thousands of Sussex homes lie empty Thousands of Sussex homes lie empty

More than one in 40 homes in Sussex lies unoccupied despite the number of empty properties dropping in the past year.

In total 20,000 homes currently lie empty, according to the latest figures by charity Homes From Empty Homes based on council tax returns.

More than a quarter of these homes have been empty for more than six months – the equivalent of one in 130 homes.

Hastings had the highest proportion of empty homes at one in 25, while Brighton and Hove also scored highly with one in 30 – or more than 3,800 homes.

The number of empty properties has declined by 1,800 across the county since last year’s report but Arun, Adur, Horsham, Lewes, Mid Sussex, Wealden and Worthing all saw increases in the number of long-term empty homes.

The reduction has been credited in part with a recent change in the law meaning empty homes are no longer automatically exempt from council tax for the first six months while councils can charge a higher level of council tax on homes that had been empty for more than two years.

The continuing growth housing market has also made it more viable for property owners to renovate some derelict houses.

Phil Graves, of Brighton-based estate agents Graves Jenkins, said that he anticipated that part of the empty homes figure would “churn” as people moved houses, another proportion would be homes on sites set for redevelopment while properties above pubs and shops not lived in by owners but used as storage would account for some more.

Councillor Bill Randall, chair of Brighton and Hove City Council’s housing committee, said the authority’s success in returning more than 150 private sector empty properties per year was the “envy” of similar authorities nationally.

He added: “The higher proportion overall of empty properties in Brighton and Hove compared to the rest of Sussex is not surprising because around 30% of properties in the city are privately rented, double the national average, and have a high turnover rate.”

A Hastings Borough Council spokesman said the authority had almost double the level of pre-1919 housing stock, meaning repair bills were likely to be higher, while lower rents meant there was a smaller return on that investment.

Councillor Christopher Snowling, cabinet member for health and community, said that some of the increase was due to affordable sheltered housing currently undergoing recent redevelopment and new private developments.

A Wealden District Council spokesman also said that some of the empty properties were bedsits in sheltered accommodation which have now been decommissioned ahead of remodelling.

Comments (3)

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8:31am Tue 8 Apr 14

Can this be says...

Councillor Bill Randall says that B&HCC's efforts have resulted in 150 empty private dwellings being reoccupied per year. While I would commend that if it compares favourably with others, with some 3,800 reported as being empty does that mean that it will take over twenty years to bring most back into use even if no more become empty? Probably a bit simplistic, but also what about those owned by the Council itself and housing associations?

It should be noted that these dwellings being returned to use do not count towards the Council's own target of 11,300 new dwellings over the next 20 years and the draft City Plan Planning Inspector's misguided quest for 20,000. The proliferating student accommodation units do not count towards the numbers either.

Sadly it remains so much easier to develop green fields. Using existing unused dwellings and brown field sites needs more effort.
Councillor Bill Randall says that B&HCC's efforts have resulted in 150 empty private dwellings being reoccupied per year. While I would commend that if it compares favourably with others, with some 3,800 reported as being empty does that mean that it will take over twenty years to bring most back into use even if no more become empty? Probably a bit simplistic, but also what about those owned by the Council itself and housing associations? It should be noted that these dwellings being returned to use do not count towards the Council's own target of 11,300 new dwellings over the next 20 years and the draft City Plan Planning Inspector's misguided quest for 20,000. The proliferating student accommodation units do not count towards the numbers either. Sadly it remains so much easier to develop green fields. Using existing unused dwellings and brown field sites needs more effort. Can this be
  • Score: 1

11:35am Tue 8 Apr 14

redwing says...

If this hoarding was happening with food there'd be immediate action against it. Yet shelter is just as vital to people's health and well being. Holding property that you don't live in as a form of investment needs to be stopped. A small section of the population is robbing the rest with inflated rents and prices that cheat people of any chance to buy their own modest home, or rent one with any security. The banking and finance industries and estate agents have no interest in prices reducing. Developers hoard land until they can make a killing when prices inevitably rise again. There is no attempt at more even development to make the best of the housing stock across the nation. It's difficult to find a politician without several homes, or a landlord themselves - go figure. It's a national scandal that means misery for millions housed poorly or not at all. Most of these are children. Empty properties? Confiscate them and use them for social housing.
If this hoarding was happening with food there'd be immediate action against it. Yet shelter is just as vital to people's health and well being. Holding property that you don't live in as a form of investment needs to be stopped. A small section of the population is robbing the rest with inflated rents and prices that cheat people of any chance to buy their own modest home, or rent one with any security. The banking and finance industries and estate agents have no interest in prices reducing. Developers hoard land until they can make a killing when prices inevitably rise again. There is no attempt at more even development to make the best of the housing stock across the nation. It's difficult to find a politician without several homes, or a landlord themselves - go figure. It's a national scandal that means misery for millions housed poorly or not at all. Most of these are children. Empty properties? Confiscate them and use them for social housing. redwing
  • Score: 3

2:00pm Tue 8 Apr 14

gingersandy38 says...

wonder how many housing association and council properties are included in this . As there are a lot of these type of properties that are left empty for a period of time. The flat next to me was empty for 6 months. Yet loads of people applied for it and where told that it was already allocated during this period of time
wonder how many housing association and council properties are included in this . As there are a lot of these type of properties that are left empty for a period of time. The flat next to me was empty for 6 months. Yet loads of people applied for it and where told that it was already allocated during this period of time gingersandy38
  • Score: 0

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