Addressing Oldham’s empty homes scandal would help save Green Belt

More than 1,100 private homes are empty in Oldham, and the Liberal Democrats would like to see them brought back into use to help address homelessness and to reduce the pressure to build new housing on the Green Belt and green spaces.

Figures recently released by Oldham Council showed that in November 2020, 1137 private homes were empty, many for long periods of time. Government figures published in December 2020 also show that 5,421 households were on Oldham Council’s housing waiting list.

Councillor Howard Sykes MBE said: “Homes which remain empty for a long period of time are often neglected and fall into disrepair, leading to an area becoming blighted and driving down neighbouring property prices. At a time when families on the Council waiting list are in desperate need of a property to make their home, it is scandalous that we have so many empty homes that could be put to good use. If we bring empty homes back into use, it will also mean that there will be less pressure to build new homes on our irreplaceable Green Belt.

Howard Sykes, looking out across Shaw

“One of the ways that we can incentivise absentee owners to let or sell properties they leave empty for long-periods is to levy an increased Council Tax on them, as we are permitted to do by law. This is an option we would like to see Oldham Council look at in the budget for the next financial year.”

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