1m empty homes as population pressure grows

Over a million homes are lying empty across England and Wales – while the population of England alone is expected to rise by 4m by the year 2022.

The Home Builders Federation said that the ONS forecast of a 7% population rise “clearly demonstrates the need for increased housing supply”.

HBF executive chair Stewart Baseley said there was already an acute housing crisis.

In London, the population is forecast to rise by 13% according to the ONS.

Meanwhile, the ONS said that parts of London are “hotspots” for empty homes. Another area for concern is the south-west.

It also said there has been an increase in the number of larger households – those with six or more people. There had been a 25% rise in the number of larger households between 2001 and 2011.

According to the Empty Homes Agency, the number of empty homes in some areas is on the rise, despite overall falls.

Helen Williams, chief executive of the Empty Homes Agency, said: “Some of the areas where the numbers are on the rise, such as parts of central London, have buoyant housing markets, and speculative buying-to-leave may well be a factor requiring some more imaginative responses.

“The housing crisis looks set to be a key battleground in next year’s general election and we hope that all political parties compete to come up with creative initiatives to tackle empty homes, otherwise we risk a slide back to the bad old days when we were reporting that long-term empty homes topped 300,000.”

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