OPINION

How do so many empty homes in our city help the housing crisis?

Posted On 31 Jan 2022 at 12:01 am

UK average house prices increased by 11.8 per cent last year with prices in Brighton and Hove up 11 per cent on 2020 and up 18 per cent on 2018.

Since the pandemic, the cost of local homes rose 6 percentage points higher than London rates.

Rents are also extremely high, with the average in Brighton and Hove for an entire property at £1,466 per month.

I know I keep banging on about the housing crisis in my articles here, but it’s a huge problem for our city.

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It leads to many struggling to pay rent or being unable to afford to live in the city where they were born.

Our city has also seen a huge surge in homes being bought as second properties and holiday homes.

This, alongside few truly affordable homes being built in the city, has turbo-charged the crisis.

Government data showed that 1 in 37 homes here were empty last year and the majority of these were second homes.

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In response to this, Councillor Gill Williams, Labour’s opposition spokesperson on housing, is bringing a motion to the meeting of the full council on Thursday (3 February).

It calls for the council to support the implementation of a “principal residency” policy whereby new open-market housing planning permission will only be granted where sales or lettings are as a principal residence.

The purpose is to reduce levels of second homes and encourage increased primary residence with year-round community benefits.

It asks for a report outlining all possible policy steps that could be considered to implement this and model the impact of the approach on both affordability and availability in the next five years.

This will consider options on changes to planning policy and potential mitigations required – such as a balancing policy for the development of holiday lettings.

This, of course, is not an attack on the many good, responsible landlords we have in Brighton and Hove, nor our vital tourism sector.

It just aims to ensure we don’t have a city full of empty, unaffordable properties that could be used to house our own residents.

Councillor John Allcock is the joint Labour opposition leader on Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. Angela T Reply

    I’m afraid people often have homes they don’t wish to sell for instance they move in with a partner and don’t want to get off the property ladder in case it doesn’t work out or they are working abroad for a few years. As tenants’ rights are so strong they don’t want to put these properties on the rental market. This in turn increases the price of rent. Also the council should not be housing people in the city unless they have a decades-long link. There are plenty of areas with far more housing.

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