National news

Meeting the challenge of low demand? - News Review

There have been a fair few stories over the last two or three weeks about significant numbers of empty homes in Durham mining villages near Easington which demonstrate that the issues associated with "low demand" - and the search for solutions - are still very much alive.

In the news stories it is Horden in particular which has been singled out, with a claimed 130 empty homes owned by Accent housing association now slated for disposal and reportedly another 130 to follow.

Canopy report reveals benefits of empty homes project

A report commissioned by Canopy Housing Project in Leeds and published early in 2014 shows the benefits that self-help housing can bring to a range of different stakeholders.

Written by Andy Bagley (Real-Improvements consultancy), this is a first-stage, preliminary report on the Social Return on Investment (SROI) provided by Canopy's project to bring empty homes back into use, a project which also draws in volunteers, provides homes, and helps people into training and work.

Council tax exemption B case clarifies the rules

A recent court High Court ruling clarifies the position regarding the rules around Council Tax Exemption Class "B" and suggests that it will be very easy for charitable housing assocations or other charitable bodies to benefit from the exemption, regardless of the rent charged in most cases.

For the record, Exemption Class "B" reads as follows:

"a dwelling owned by a body established for charitable purposes only, which is unoccupied and has been so for a period of less than 6 months and was last occupied in furtherance of the objects of the charity"

Scotland launches Town Centre Empties Fund

The Scottish government has launched a new £4million fund to help address empty homes and commercial properties in town centres. The funding can be used to bring long-term empty homes back into use or to convert redundant commercial properties into housing. As with the predecessor scheme, the Scottish Empty Homes Loan Fund, the homes produced must be affordable.

There is little detail available about the Town Centre Empty Homes Fund at the moment. The press release states simply that it

Pickles plucks Liver Bird's feathers

[The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and not those of the Empty Homes Network]

It's back to the drawing board for the powers that be in Liverpool following Eric Pickles' decision[1] to over-rule his Planning Inspector and refuse the CPO and planning permission that would have allowed the redevelopment of the "Welsh Streets" to go ahead.

Massive boost for Scottish Empty Homes Partnership

The Scottish government has provided a massive boost to the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, both extending the funding for a further 3 years and expanding the available resource by a further 1.5 posts.

Scottish Housing Minister Margaret Burgess announced the move on 23rd December. The story published on the Scottish Goverment website describes the initiative in more detail:

The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership (SEHP) will receive a three year extension backed by an additional £616,500 from the Scottish Government.

Empty Homes Conference set for 20th May

We've now set the date for the 2015 National Empty Homes Conference, and the first speakers have already been booked. It will be held in Birmingham on Wednesday, 20th May at Maple House, our third year at this spacious and comfortable venue.

Helen Williams will be appearing to give us vital insight from her perspective as Chief Executive of the Empty Homes Agency; and Andrew Lavender will be offering his invaluable surgeries.

Community Grants Programme meeting details finalised

Time flies and the EHCGP comes to an end on March 31st.. As part of our efforts to make the case for more some more funding, self-help-housing.org and HACT are running two events in February , looking at what has been achieved through the DCLG’s £50m Empty Homes Community Grants Programme. One will be in London looking at the national picture, while the other will take place in Hull and will concentrate on what’s been achieved in Yorks. & Humberside and the North East and on the recent research that is ongoing.

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