Massive rise in number of empty homes in Harlow

THE number of homes left empty in England for at least six months increased by 5.3% in the 12 months to October 2018, the highest level since 2012, official figures show reports property

The figure for Harlow is 43.1%. Over the next few weeks, YH will be investigating why this is so and what can be done about it. We will be looking at both empty council home figures (see picture) as well as private sales.

It is the second year in a row that long term empty home numbers have risen. In the 12 month period they reached 216,186 and a steeper rise than the 2.6% recorded in the previous year, the data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) confirms.

Before two years ago the number of empty homes had fallen every year since 2008 and a new analysis from modular home builder Project Etopia suggests that long term vacant homes now account for £53.6 billion worth of property.

Of all towns and cities in England, Portsmouth saw the biggest percentage rise in long term empty homes last year, with a total of 939, a rise of 101.5%, followed by Hartlepool with a rise of 53.8% to 726, and Eastbourne up 48.4% to 518.

The data also shows that Woking saw a 47.2% rise in empty homes, York a rise of 46.8%, Harlow up 43.1%, Bedford up 42.2%, Maidstone up 41.8%, St Albans up 40.6%, and Norwich up 37.9%.

Birmingham had the highest overall number in the country with 4,283 long term vacant homes, more or less unchanged on the previous year with a rise of 0.07%, followed by Durham with 4,130 was down by 9% and Bradford with 4,090 recorded a rise of 4%.

Liverpool had 3,703, a fall of 4,8%, Leeds some 2,788, a rise of 2.9%, Sheffield a rise of 10.4% to 2,344, Sunderland up 6.4% to 1,893, Stoke on Trent up 22.9% to 1,865, Newcastle up 12.4% to 1,792 and Doncaster up 3.4% to 1,683.

The analysis also shows that London has also seen another rise in the number of long term empty homes, its second increase since 2009, up 11.1% to 22,481 in 2018, representing £10.7 billion worth of property.

The largest number of empty property in London can be found in Southwark with a rise of 56.6% to 1,766, followed by the City of London, up 54.4% to 244, Sutton up 46% to 686, Richmond up 41.9% to 488 and Greenwich up 38.3% to 830.

‘This remains a national scandal that isn’t going away, pointing to a collective failure to really get to grips with this problem,’ said Joseph Daniels, chief executive officer of Project Etopia.

‘The stubbornly high number of empty homes is compounding the housing market’s deeply entrenched problems with lack of supply remaining a key driver of high prices and low affordability,’ he explained.

‘New homes are not being built fast enough and the constant spectre of abandoned properties aggravates an already tough market, particularly for first time buyers who desperately want to claim the keys to their first property,’ he added.

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10 Responses to "Massive rise in number of empty homes in Harlow"

  1. jarrett   March 12, 2019 at 10:33 am

    But the council propaganda paper that came this week told me how well they are doing turning round empty properties.

  2. durcant   March 12, 2019 at 10:42 am

    Jarrett many of these homes don’t belong to the council so nothing they can do.
    Most aren’t even on the market for sale.
    Share your frustration

  3. jhumphreys84   March 12, 2019 at 11:04 am

    If this is the case, why do we need so many new homes in the Harlow development Plan? Sort these issues out first before building new home son green belt land

  4. apolitical2   March 12, 2019 at 12:09 pm

    The majority of the private sector empty homes are newly built homes awaiting sale. Lazy non story for Harlow

  5. tenpin   March 12, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    The article makes no mention of actually how many homes are vacant in Harlow. The fact the number is for those empty for more than 6 months surely means that very few if any are new ones awaiting to be sold .Having walked around many of the towns existing estates in the last year I have been surprised to see a number of homes which have clearly been empty for months if not years. Masses of post items in hallways, badly decaying woodwork and weed growth around the front doors all indicate that homes are not being occupied. The rush to build new homes is really flamed by Council’s receiving a New Homes Bonus from the Government when they allow new homes to be built. Almost all the homes proposed for Harlow and the surrounding area will be built for the private sector which will help none of the people in the most need of a home. There are some 1500 houses in Harlow occupied by just one person, The Harlow Alliance Party want to see the Council build bungalows on sites that it develops, helping to release into the market under occupied homes that could them be occupied by families.

  6. durcant   March 12, 2019 at 4:37 pm

    Tenpin. I feel HAP don’t respect or understand people.
    People chose to live in their home that many have brought up families in and has strong local community ties.
    HAP policy of when your sadly alone you have to give up your home is simple madness.
    People have the right of choice and no one not even HAP should take that chose away from them.
    We need a mixture of housing old and new. Flats,family homes and yes even bungalows.
    This is what the council YES the council is building to provide options and choice for council tenants.
    HAP are looking both ways at the same time you don’t want growth but you want elderly people to move out of their family homes to ……….

  7. tenpin   March 12, 2019 at 6:55 pm

    HAP are not trying to FORCE anyone to move, but to give people the CHOICE to move to a smaller home, pay less council tax, maintain a smaller garden, pay less heating costs and perhaps put a capital sum in the bank for a better life style. A national survey recently estimated that 4 million people would like to move into a bungalow but were unable to do so. We have met many people on the doorstep and at our public meetings who concur with our policy of getting the Council to build bungalows on the land it ends up developing. We have not seen Harlow Council give any undertaking to build even just one.Frederick Gibberd’s idea was to build a small number of bungalows throughout each neighbourhood in the town so that someone moving into them was still living near family and friends. This policy still stands the test of time. Why not come along to one of our public meetings, at least you will get the chance to talk to a large number of residents, probably something you and other members of the Labour Group have not been accustomed to for many years.

  8. durcant   March 12, 2019 at 11:48 pm

    Sorry for my confusion but what HAPs would like is the council to build bungalows so people who already own their own homes could sell them at profit and become council tenants.
    Then people on the waiting list or already in council housing could then get a mortgage to buy the family homes sold by the people who move into council bungalows.

  9. tenpin   March 13, 2019 at 12:22 am

    To clear up any confusion, those on council land should be for council tenants. However, through the planning process, the council should negotiate with developers to build a number of bungalows, to help meet the need in the town for such accommodation and provide a wider range of properties. Church Langley had no bungalows built and no lessons were learnt there, but in new areas such as at Ram Gorse Park and at Gilden Way the Council could have insisted for example that many of the affordable homes were bungalows. Harlow Council’s Local Plan specifically mentions the need to provide new housing for the elderly and those with a physical impairment but then makes no reference about how this would be achieved.I hope this clarifies HAP’s policy on this matter.

  10. Pytr Kropotkin   March 13, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    There is merit to both arguments above. With major house-builders earning £1bn in annual profits, there has to be room for a sensible system where central DOE planning could not overrule local decisions based on needed housing mix. Local authorities SHOULD have the power to grant planning for an overall development ONLY when it’s mix helps address local housing need. To for example insist that n% in any local development were required to be low rise (bungalows etc) n% were flats and starter homes, etc., rather than 100% faux ‘executive’ 3-5 aspirational properties, would make good sense.

    A suitable local stock of ‘downsizing’ homes, could indeed help keep the mature home owner closer to their local area, and their family members, and help ease supply/demand pressure on local house prices.

    As for council homes, the right to live and die in the same council property is certainly an aspiration the council should seek to facilitate, but ultimately, without supporting the ‘bedroom tax’ there is a problem if a sole remaining tenant under a secure tenancy in what was a 3/4 bed family home is ‘blocking’ a family in housing need, (by refusing to transfer to more appropriate accommodation, even when incentivised), , then the greater societal need should arguably be legislated for.

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