Did you know that despite the acute shortage of accommodation in Leeds more than 5,000 homes in the city have been empty for more than six months?
A council report indicates that while many of the vacancies are in the traditional student areas of Leeds (Headingley and Hyde Park) and in the city centre, Beeston & Holbeck ward has the fourth highest average void rate in recent years. In January 2013 126 properties in what the report describes as the ‘Holbeck and Beeston target area’ were empty. Nearly 90% of these had been empty for more than a year. Almost 70% were owned by private landlords and a further quarter were in private ownership. Throughout the city the vast majority of empty properties belong to private landlords or are in private ownership.
So what can be done about this? Social Business Brokers – social entrepreneurs based in Leeds – are working with Leeds City Council to address the problem of empty homes. Following up on last year’s Call To Action they have organised the first Leeds Empties Week between 18th and 22nd March 2013 with each day having a different focus.
Rob Greenland, co-director of Social Business Brokers said:
“This week of action is all about putting the spotlight on the practical, positive things all of us can do – businesses, home-owners, residents or investors – to put these properties back into use. We want the week to be fun, engaging and informative and all about encouraging collaboration between the people who can make a difference and who want to help.”
Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council Executive Board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:
“It is great to be able lend support to the week of action around empty homes. As a council we are fully committed to working to reduce the number of empty properties in the city and to build on the already good work that has been undertaken by both the council, businesses and social enterprises across the city.”
Next Monday (18th March) there’s a launch event; Tuesday sees an opportunity to visit two homes brought back into use by LATCH and Canopy; on Wednesday you could attend a breakfast seminar at the Greenhouse in Beeston. On Thursday evening there’s an advice session for owners with empty properties and on Friday an opportunity to discuss setting up a social enterprise to help tackle this issue.
For more information and booking details see the Leeds Empties website.
This article was written by Stephen Williamson using our Community Reporters website