Campaign to force the re-use of empty buildings wins support

December 15, 2011

Moves by West councils to ensure redundant buildings, including 5,000 empty homes, are fully utilised before  green field sites are swallowed up for development have been welcomed by property specialist Colliers International.

The West of England Property Initiative – run jointly by North Somerset, Bristol City, South Gloucestershire  and Bath and North East Somerset councils – aims to get more empty private housing back into general supply on the open market.

This is by providing a base for advertising empty properties to prospective sellers, purchasers and tenants while also providing advice on buying, selling and renting out such properties.  
One million homes are estimated to be empty in Britain including 5,000 in the initiative area with 1,500 in Bristol alone.

Welcoming the initiative, which also serves commercial premises and land, James Edwards (pictured), a planning specialist in Colliers’s Bristol office, said: “There is an ever increasing demand for housing and local authorities are being challenged to find suitable land to provide thousands of new houses. 

“Although the level of empty houses in any one area may not fully meet a perceived housing shortfall for the area it will go some way to addressing it – which will help relieve pressure on previously undeveloped land on the edges of our cities, towns and villages.”

He said it was “madness” to leave properties empty only to have to build new ones somewhere else, consuming valuable open space and further raw materials. 

“A fundamental problem historically has been the lack of collaborative thinking, which has meant that there has not been a centralised service for identifying and promoting empty homes,” added Mr Edwards.
“The West of England Property Initiative is a ‘win-win’ situation for the council and property owner. Sometimes all that is required is providing advice to the property owner and establishing a framework from which to dispose of properties which have been empty for some time.”  



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