Research funded by the Nationwide Foundation and conducted by a team from Empty Homes [Agency] makes a strong case for delivering affordable housing through conversions of empty commercial spaces.
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'Very informative - put me down for next year' was a typical feedback comment from a delegate to the 2016 Empty Homes Conference in Birmingham.
The average number of stars awarded by delegates was 4.53 out of 5, maintaining the level of satisfaction seen in previous years. And despite austerity, the numbers attending were only marginally lower than in 2015.
Property industry charity Landaid has awarded £1.3million in grants to projects to provide housing for young homeless people by bringing empty homes back into use.
There were 57 applications for the available grant, and awards were made to 15 projects, including World Habitat Award winners Canopy. Canopy's £80,000 grant will enable them to refurbish three properties and provide housing for six young homeless people.
The final award for 2015 that remains to be highlighted before we invite submissions for the 2016 Awards is the Most Innovative Intervention Award, sponsored by Carson Millican, trading as Empty Property Solutions Ltd. (and contactable by email if you'd like to find out more).
As we approach the 2016 Empty Homes Awards season, it's worth refreshing memories with a look back at last year's awards.
We've already covered the Practitioner of the Year Award and the Best Local Authority / Community Housing Organisation Awards, but we haven't given the details of last year's award for the best partnership between a local authority and a housing assocation.
DCLG and HM Treasury are consulting on further changes to the compulsory purchase legislation. Most of the changes do not seem to affect empty homes work but important changes to the arrangements for basic loss adjustment seem to offer some hope that CPOs of eyesore empties could become cheaper - depending exactly how the rules might be interpreted.
The Empty Homes Network has published a brief document inviting the candidates in the election for London Mayor to consider the development of a London-wide Empty Homes Initiative.
No Stone Unturned - subtitled 'An Empty Homes Initiative for London' - identifies numerous benefits of a regional approach, citing the initiatives in Kent, Scotland and Wales as exemplars.
Two leading self-help housing organisations from have scooped World Habitat Awards in the 2015-16 competition. Girsocope and Canopy, both well-known for their innovative approaches to tackling empty homes, offered a joint submission under the heading "Self-Help Housing in the North of England". They were announced as winners on the 29th February (along with a Puerto Rican Community Land Trust).
Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Anglesey, Conwy, Ceredigion, Powys, Gwynedd and Flintshire are the first Welsh Local Authorities looking at implementing a 50% council tax premium on empty and second homes for 2017/18. Councils must make the declaration by 1st April 2016 to begin charging in 2017/18.
In a major departure from accepted practice, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead has released details of empty properties following a Freedom of Information request. The main local newspaper, the Royal Borough Observer, reported a significant backlash against the council's move in a recent story.
Speaking at the Goverment Property Conference this morning, Matt Hancock, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, announced that provisions were to be included in the Housing and Planning Bill that would required all local authorities to publish lists of their "surplus assets". This is to include all council homes empty for over 6 months and other buildings empty over 2 years.
What has Pay to Stay got to do with empty properties I hear you ask? Well from a southern perspective possibly very little, but the further you go north the more there is a relationship between the two.
A study of community-led housing by the Smith Institute, a left-leaning think-tank, has called for the government to re-instate the Empty Homes Community Grant Programme.
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Cherwell and South Northamptonshire Councils are advertising for a jointly-funded Empty Property Officer who will work 2.5 days in each local authority area. The authorities already share a Chief Executive. However, this is not yet a shared empty homes service, with the post-holder reporting separately to different managers in each authority.
The Housing and Planning Bill, currently before Parliament, has some 31 clauses dealing with compulsory purchase orders. This article is a brief summary of the changes proposed by the Bill insofar as they are relevant to empty homes CPOs.
Stoke-on-Trent Cabinet has approved a proposal for an investigation into the feasibility of a second wave of "£1 homes".
The Report to Cabinet throws some interesting light on the success of the scheme to date, the financial models involved, and the continuing issues that need to be dealt with. The investigation would be carried out by the Private Sector Housing Team, currently managed by award-winning ex-empty-homes-officer Zainul Pirmohamed.