Council needs to ‘think outside the box’ to help bring empty properties back into use

The Council needs to make more progress to tackle the 5,000 homes in Leeds that have stood empty for more than six months – but I am praising the government’s latest round of investment in the region to address the problem

The government’s latest £40.8 million investment across the country in bringing empty properties back into use could deliver up to 1,939 affordable homes. Leeds received £440,000 funding.

With the current housing shortage and all the associated problems that this brings for people on waiting lists, it’s vital that we make the best use of the housing we already have. It is frustrating to see the thousands of properties that are standing empty for long periods of time, and whilst I recognise that the Council is trying to tackle the issue, many of the schemes are only scratching the surface of the problem.

The government has identified this matter as a priority – and is putting its money where its mouth is. A second bidding round for funding across the country recently saw £40m allocated to councils, £440,000 of which will come to Leeds. But the Council needs to use this as part of a suite of measures in order to make the kind of progress that is necessary.

Are we doing everything we can to work with landlords to help them take the necessary action to get these homes on the market again? Can we streamline the Council’s often overly bureaucratic procedures to help get some use out of council-owned properties? With the pressure this city is facing to find locations for new housing, it seems like we could spare the need to build on our green fields if we could only think outside the box and find a way of releasing the untapped potential that is already on our doorsteps.