YEP SAYS: We should be able to ease pressure on open spaces

ON THE one hand, we need more houses to accommodate our burgeoning population with our ever-diminishing green areas under threat. On the other, we have 26,000 homes lying empty across Yorkshire including more than 2,600 in Leeds.

Thursday, 26th May 2016, 3:35 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th May 2016, 4:38 pm
For Sale and To Let boards line the Road in York City Centre. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday November 15, 2006. Plans were announced during the Queen's speech for an estate agency Bill. People buying or selling a house are to be offered clearer information by estate agents as a strengthened code of conduct is introduced for the industry. See PA story POLITICS Speech EstateAgents. Photo credit should read: Chris Radburn/PA.

It doesn’t take too much joined-up thinking to recognise that if those homes were made habitable – presumably for a fraction of the cost of building new ones – then pressure on our fields could be relieved.

Leeds has 2,679 long-term empty homes, worth an estimated £364m, compared with 2,915 in 2015 and 4,542 in 2005.

The problem, it seems, is being tackled but there is still a staggering number of vacant homes.

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Leeds City Council says it is tackling the issue head on. Most of these homes are privately owned and the council has succeeded in reducing the figure by 3,000 in five years.

It seems that the actions taken by the council are working and that these should be encouraged to enable young people, especially, to get on the housing ladder.

The news comes at an interesting time as people have taken extraordinary steps to stop development of Gledhow Valley Woods in Leeds. They raised £30,000 to buy the land and ensure it isn’t developed for housing. They deserve credit for their can-do attitude to protect their environment.

In the market for better shopping

SHOPPING in Leeds shouldn’t be just about gleaming new stores and fancy arcades. Old-fashioned markets still have a place, especially when they are as grand and ornate as Kirkgate Market.

Generations of shoppers will be delighted that this rather special place has been restored. It wasn’t an easy project - the controversy over rent charges made the headlines more than once - but now it is completed it can take its place alongside Victoria Gate, our £165m development.

Leeds is ever improving as a shopping destination and Kirkgate Market as a big role to play.