Portsmouth tops nationwide list for rise in empty homes – but senior councillor is 'not surprised' by the news

Fears have been raised about how best to tackle the number of empty homes
Fears have been raised about how best to tackle the number of empty homes
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THE number of empty homes in Portsmouth has doubled in the space of 12 months, according to new statistics.

Figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show that the number of long-term empty houses in Portsmouth rose by 101.5 per cent in the 12 months up to October 2018.

Councillor Darren Sanders says the council is 'taking action' to rectify the issue. Picture: Malcolm Wells

Councillor Darren Sanders says the council is 'taking action' to rectify the issue. Picture: Malcolm Wells

This means there are currently 939 empty homes in the city – topping a nationwide list for the increase in property vacancies.

But Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet member for housing, Councillor Darren Sanders, says he is ‘not surprised’ by the news.

He explained: ‘When the Liberal Democrats took over Portsmouth we saw that there were far too many homes in Portsmouth that have been vacant for far too long.

‘It shows that housing is not a problem that we can simply build our way out of – we have to make sure that we don’t have empty homes just lying around.

‘There are different reasons why properties have been left empty but we’re keen to deal with that quickly.’

Today, Cllr Sanders will meet with Conservative and Labour representatives to discuss two schemes that he believes will help tackle the issue.

The first involves purchasing private properties that have been empty for an extended period of time; the second is a £1m portfolio to buy homes for rough sleepers to move into.

Cllr Sanders explained: ‘Many of the homes we buy for the homeless will be empty homes, so we can tackle two issues at once.

'Once these schemes are approved we can start working on the issue; it’s not going to be resolved overnight but I’m delighted that we are taking action.’

The statistics were compiled and published by modular homes provider Project Etopia.

CEO Joseph Daniels said: ‘This remains a national scandal that isn’t going away, pointing to a collective failure to really get to grips with this problem.

‘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.

‘New homes are not being built fast enough and the abandoned properties aggravate an already tough market.’