Renewed drive to slash Leeds empty homes numbers and tackle housing crisis

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Leeds council bosses are stepping up a drive to reduce hundreds of long term empty homes in the inner city - and reclaim what they admit is a “wasted resource” in helping tackle the housing crisis.

The renewed campaign, focusing on Holbeck, aims to get 138 homes back into use every year over the next three years.

It will be done with the help of a new agreement with the Empty Homes Doctor, a not for profit business which has already helped slash the numbers of unoccupied homes in the city.

The YEP has reported previously that Leeds has more than 5,000 houses lying empty long term. the vast majority of them privately owned.

At the same time, the city is in the grips of a growing housing crisis, with a booming birth rate, ageing population, and more than 1,600 people the council waiting list for a decade or longer, all being factors.

A report just approved by council decision-makers says: “Empty Homes are a wasted resource in the city.

“They deprive an individual or family of a place to live, and can blight communities, affecting confidence and investment.”

A Government planning inspector has previously ordered the city to “contribute to its housing supply by reducing the number of empty homes”.

There have been some key successes over the last decade, and overall numbers of empties are down from a peak of 12,000 to 3,800 in 2016.

And the city has already beaten its targets, with the required decrease of 2,000 from 2012 to 2017 already suprpassed in May 2016 with a net reduction of 2,083 properties.

The report to the council’s cabinet says it is “essential that the net reduction is maintained as part of the Core Strategy for the city going forward”.

It adds that as part of the ongoing work, “specific areas with high concentrations of empty homes have been the proactively targeted as part of the strategy of improving neighbourhoods”.