by willforster on 3 January, 2018
Despite significant homelessness, pressure on the Green Belt and sky high house prices – 708 homes in Woking are sitting empty according to research by the Lib Dems.
The figures, uncovered through Freedom of Information requests, show that there are over 11,000 homes across the country have stood empty for at least a decade. Worryingly, Woking has many more empty homes than our neighbouring Surrey’s boroughs – Guildford has 475 unoccupied homes, Mole Valley has 297 and Spelthorne has only 122.
Lib Dem research found just one in 13 councils in England and Wales used powers to take over properties lying empty despite housing crisis and rising homelessness. Woking Borough Council has failed to make use of Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMO), powers used by local authorities to take over properties that have been empty for at least two years – this is despite the fact that some local families have spent Christmas without a home.
Nationally, only 19 of the 247 councils in England and Wales that responded (the powers do not apply in Scotland) had used an EDMO in the past five years, of these only six had used one in the past year.
At a time when the homelessness crisis is worsening and more and more people are sleeping out in the cold on our streets, it is a scandal that so many homes locally are sitting empty. These homes could be turned into affordable places to live for those that need it across Woking.
The Government needs to urgently review the current system which is clearly not working and Woking Council needs to be given the powers and resources to bring empty homes back into use. However, it is shameful that Woking has failed to use existing powers to end this scandal – especially when Woking seems to have such a huge amount of empty properties.2 Comments