Bradford needs more funding to improve homes, says Cities Outlook report (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford needs more funding to improve homes, says Cities Outlook report
7:00am Tuesday 22nd January 2013 in News
A national report into housing supply states places such as Bradford would benefit from more funding to bring existing homes back into use.
The Cities Outlook 2013 from Centre for Cities highlights the top areas where funds aimed at kick-starting housing delivery could be best used – both to offer a chance to stalled schemes and to help transform existing homes.
Bradford falls into the latter category, according to the report.
The research states some cities should be supported by policies and funding that incentivises the right measures to address local housing issues including retrofitting and reconfiguration of existing homes.
Bradford is ranked second in this list with a vacancy rate of 5.4 per cent and 3,439 stalled sites, according to the Centre for Cities report.
Alexandra Jones, chief executive of Centre for Cities said:”Cities must have the freedoms and flexibilities to make decisions about housing policy based on local circumstances. For some cities, lack of housing prevents people accessing jobs or means they are stuck in cramped accommodation. In other cities, incentives to retrofit empty houses could improve local quality of life. Both approaches, adapted to local needs, would generate the jobs and growth the UK needs.”
In response, Bradford Council leader Councillor David Green said: “Although we agree with some of the report’s conclusions regarding housing, we would argue that Bradford needs both investment in new housing as well as a focus on improving existing stock and tackling empty homes.
“We need about 2,500 new affordable homes a year, but last year only 733 new homes were built. We have tackled the empty homes problem and only 2.5 per cent of housing stock is classed as long term empty.
“Recent population growth has outstripped housing growth and that, together with a gradual increase in homelessness and the impact of welfare reforms, is likely to mean that there are further significant housing pressures to come over the next five to 20 years.
“We will continue to put in place long-term strategies to address deep seated issues that have affected Bradford for a number of years. These solutions must be sustainable to ensure that we do not adopt quick fixes that merely paper over the cracks and leave us facing similar problems in the future.”
The latest figures show the Council has reduced the number of empty homes in the district by 3,007 since October 2009. As a result, the authority will receive £17 million through the Government’s New Homes Bonus scheme, which rewards councils who increase housing stock by building new homes or converting empty properties back into use by match-funding the additional council tax raised, for the following six years.
As a result there are 9,731 empty houses in the Bradford district, compared with 12,738 in 2009.
Last year Bradford was hailed a top performer nationally in reducing the number of empty homes, being the third highest performing local authority in England.