9:14am Wednesday 8th February 2012
By Paul Mackie
The economic downturn has led to an increase in vacant properties, which in turn leads to further problems without obvious solutions.
Criminal attacks and vandalism on some of our old buildings are unfortunately continuing. These cannot be condoned, whether or not they are architecturally important or derelict eyesores. With a few exceptions most of the buildings are at the end of their useful life; the likelihood of other forms of use being identified in the next 20 years is unlikely.
The cost of insurance and maintenance is increasing as more dereliction and decay sets in. Whether or not cover is available also raises questions as more arson attacks occur.
Empty rates taxation is also an issue for landlords on top of a lack of occupiers. Many are in populated areas on brownfield sites where there is a growing need for affordable accommodation.
At a time when we are eating into areas of green space, isn’t it time to address this to avoid a lose-lose situation?
Losing green space, buildings and even lives is a real possibility unless something is done to help regenerate the buildings and their land.
The Property Forum has raised the issue of de-listing some heritage buildings in favour of more affordable housing. Tensions over land availability and allocation remain, and this could help ease the problems. It would demonstrate that common sense exists on resolving the conundrum of land allocation.
Failure to resolve things soon could lead to increased friction between residents’ action groups and councillors and officers.
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