'Empty Chesterfield homes could help solve housing crisis', argue campaigners

Hundreds of empty houses in Chesterfield should be used to help solve the housing crisis, campaigners argue.

Monday, 5th April 2021, 11:13 pm
Updated Monday, 5th April 2021, 11:17 pm

Action on Empty Homes said it is “worrying” that more than half a million homes lie unused across England, while tens of thousands of families are living in temporary accommodation.

The campaign group’s analysis of Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures show 836 homes in Chesterfield unused in October, up from 696 the year before, including 655 long-term vacancies, unoccupied for at least six months, and 181 second homes.

This means one in every 60 homes in Chesterfield was out of use – although this was below the England average of one in 47.

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Campaigners say empty homes in Derbyshire could be used to help tackle homelessness.

Chesterfield Council said it was committed to maximing housing supply in the area.

Liz Cook, council service director for housing, said: “We are aware there are a number of empty properties in Chesterfield, but these are mainly within the private sector.

“We primarily take the approach of engaging with owners, encouraging them to bring these homes back into use, but will take enforcement action when required.

“We are currently developing a new empty homes strategy and working on a private-sector leasing scheme to make it easier for owners to make these properties available to rent.

“We are committed to maximising the supply of housing.”

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Number of empty homes keeps rising

The figures show one in every 42 Bolsover homes was out of use in October, a total of 882, including 797 long-term vacancies and 85 second homes.

In Derbyshire Dales, it was one in 21, with 1,640 unused homes – 570 long-term vacancies and 1,070 second homes – while in North East Derbyshire it was one in 58, with 801 unusued homes, including 612 long-term vacancies and 189 second homes.

There were 268,000 long-term empty homes across the country and 263,000 classed as second homes – AEH said these properties should instead offer “vitally needed housing” to the homeless.

Will McMahon, director, said: “It can’t be right that we have seen an escalating housing crisis while the number of long-term empty homes keeps rising.”

An MHCLG spokesman said: “We have given councils powers and strong incentives to tackle empty homes, including the power to increase council tax by up to 300 per cent on them and take over the management of homes empty for a long period.”

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