back to article Online tools to 'end the scandal of empty homes'

The Communities and Local Government (CLG) department has launched two new online toolkits to help tackle the problem of empty homes in England. It has introduced a geographical information system (GIS) empty homes mapping toolkit, which plots the location of long term empty homes in private ownership across the country. This …


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  1. Tony Barnes

    Squatters paradise

    lol - so all we need now is someone to hack said database, post online, et voila - squatters all over the country quickly re-homed!

  2. The Fuzzy Wotnot


    The perfect tool for a little Urbexing I feel!!

    ( Security icon as security guards are always happy to see Urbexers and their cameras! )

  3. Anonymous Coward

    All part of filling the planet up!

    Planet not "full"!? Will be soon. Before long even more of the world will really start to suffer from overcrowding (i.e. scarcity of resources like water and food and land). Not to mention what will happen when oil and gas shortages become serious and the natural world can't recover enough to serve our purposes.

    Meanwhile in the West - e.g. UK - why do we need to keep building and building? What do we want to achieve - all concrete and no green?

    "But science will save us!". Sure.

    Slightly off topic - but you get my rant.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @All part of filling the planet up!

      Err, you didn't quite grasp this did you.

      If they use these houses, then there is less need to build new ones...


      That's the point of article passing you by

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Not really whooshing past actually...

        So all the people who are presently living in B&B land, in garden sheds in Slough (apparently) and so on - all get moved into these empty houses (and screw the owners and their rights). Fine - and that does ease the endless pressure on building houses - for now.

        After that, once more, there's capacity in sheds in Slough and in B&Bs - and we can fill them up and off we go again.

        Instead why don't we take a good look at what is sustainable? True, this specific issue (which didn't really "whoosh" past me - but did stoke up my "over population" sensibilities) is not directly connected to the sort of issues I'm talking about - but filling every possible home with people is all part of the journey to filling the planet. We're just starting to squeeze people into some of the CURRENT empty spaces.

        1. Chris Hartley 1

          I still hear some whooshing.

          I am not sure I get why you see this as a bad or thing, or at least a thing to complain about.

          Sure, the planet is overpopulated and we need to get the birth rate down, make the idea of having lots of children less popular and all that....

          But this is about making use of the resources we have already; namely empty homes. Just leaving them idle and unused (filling homes with people - isn't that what homes are for?) won't do a thing about lowering the population. And building more homes while so many are left empty will waste resources and lead to more greenbelt being eaten up.

          And yes, screw the owners of these unused proporties. Its not like they won't have a shortage of takers* if they; a.) let the property or; b.) sold it. But if you are leaving a house empty you holding onto something that a lot of people do need and creating scarcity which is driving up high house prices even further.

          *Barring homes on sink estates. Even then sell it and at least let housing authority make use of it.

  4. There's a bee in my bot net


    One of the most expensive strips of land in the UK? I would say about 60% of the houses and flats there are largely unoccupied as they are the beach houses/weekend retreats of the Rich. I'm sure they wouldn't mind squatters as long as they are gone on the weekends...

  5. s. pam
    Thumb Down

    Happy fucking day

    Gee the EU Human Light campaigners will be all over the press now asking immigration to let in just few, hundreds of thousands MORE in o suck off the gubmnt tit

  6. Paul_Murphy

    Holidays homes

    Similar to bee above - there are many properties that have been bought to rent to holiday makers ('cottages 4 you' say they have 10,000 in the UK alone) - this takes them out of the local market, pushes prices up so that local people can't afford them, and has a knock-on effect on the local economy - particularly on schools.

    I'm not sure what a solution to this might be - if there is one at all, but having a lot of un-occupied properties around the country, whilst my taxes are being spent to keep people, in a variety of circumstances, in B&B's and hotels cannot be a good thing.


    1. Bassey

      Re: Holidays homes

      I'm not entirely sure that stacks up Paul - though I could be wrong. On second homes/weekend homes etc you are absolutely spot on. On actually holiday homes where someone buys a house, converts it for holiday use and rents it out, I would have thought this was not very much different to hotel space. It is specifically for holiday accomodation and should be occupied 60%+ of the time. Those visitors will be bringing money into the area etc. I can see the impact on local kids not being able to get on the property ladder (happens where I live too) but not sure it has any impact on taxes. The country needs a certain amount of holiday accomodation to meet the demand. If there was too much, the market should kill off the waste thereby bringing down prices. But to get rid of the accomodation or - worse still - put it all in London, would destroy a particularly profitable part of the UK economy.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Has to be a limit on the number of empty houses, even if one is of the strange opinion that how few people are in a house under private ownership is anything to do with government. And clearly not every property without a permanent resident is derelict. So what happens when they've taken everything from this scapegoat area, and they find they have to start considering the problem cause, i.e. overpopulation, after all? Why not tackle it from the start instead of persecuting innocent citizens simply because they can.

    1. Paul_Murphy

      Been here long then?

      >Why not tackle it from the start instead of persecuting innocent citizens simply because they can.

      As title

  8. TeeCee Gold badge

    "£100m fund we have announced for refurbishing properties..."

    Of which a tidy %age will return unto the fold in VAT.

    Now, if refurb / rebuild were zero rated like new build, there might be a bit of incentive for property owners to pull their fingers out.

    As things stand, refurbing an existing building hits you with the VAT, the additional heating / lighting / whatever costs associated with older stock vs. new build, the costs of modifying it to comply with the various regulations introduced since it was built and the elephant in the room, the high likelyhood of some eco-loon initiative hitting the result with some sort of CO2 tax for "less efficient" buildings.

    As a result the smart move, if you own a rundown property, is to let the thing fall into dereliction so you can flog the land for new build. This is also compounded by the variety of incentives offered for new build on "brownfield" sites.

    Yes it's insane. It's government thinking, what did you expect?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hear, hear!

      Try googling 'obsolete pre 1919 houses'. There is a massive campaign to replace perfectly good houses with typical UK new builds, ie: third rate design, tiny rooms and a likely lifespan under 60 years.


      Funny thing is, they never target Cornish fishing villages, eg: Padstow, or pre-1919 properties in London, eg: Downing Street. But houses of identical or better construction in poorer areas are seen as 'needing' demolition, not refurbishment.


      They keep saying we need more affordable houses, but if they are affordable that is declared to be 'Housing Market Failure' and they are boarded up. Which, of course, blights nearby properties...


      The magic of political donations?

  9. Colin Millar

    Another silver bullet

    Identifying empty properties has never been that difficult.

    Identifying areas of housing need - ditto

    The difficulties in returning empty homes to use is not an inability to identify them.

    Generally the problems are

    a) the completely distorted housing and property market

    b) property developers and their lawyers

    c) the expectation amongst (b) that after a bit of a recession the nature of (a) will reassert itself early in the recovery

    d) a complete lack of any real powers for local authorities to do anything about any of it

    Still - I bet it all looks pretty cool with all those overlays and GIS tagging. Maybe it could get a layer in Google Earth.

  10. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Even if...

    ... all of these properties were returned to occupancy tomorrow there'd still be a shortfall of at least twice as much again.

    It's funny that there's no simliar GIS layer for unoccupied council-owned properties.

    WRT the pre 1919 houses, I live in one - it was an expensive bollox to insulate properly and it's still not as good as a decent new build could be. I totally agree about the tiny rooms thing and hate modern small places but developers build as small as housing laws allow - if lawmakers allow a return to slum-sized housing then they'll happily build it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Developers don't build as small as the law allows because the law doesn't care about private development. In fact the only government enforced size minimums are on social housing. The developers build as small as the market will bear so they can squeeze more units in per hectare.

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