The grant that will pay for 120 currently empty homes in the Wharfe and Aire Valley areas to be refurbished as affordable houses is very welcome news.
There are thousands and thousands of unused houses across the district and any initiatives which help bring them back into use has to be welcomed.
It is a central tenet of this newspaper’s Save Our Green Spaces campaign that a large part of the housing targeted to be built in the district could be on derelict or disused brownfield sites. And news that the Homes and Community Agency (HCA) is making grants available like this £900,000 one for just such developments is welcome indeed.
However, 120 homes is loose change when looked at in the context of the Council’s stated target of 45,000 houses to be built by 2028 and will have little impact on the continued pressure for building on greenfield sites.
Taking aside any debate over the target figure – and this paper’s stated view is that the target is grossly over-stated – many more currently disused homes, and other derelict buildings like mills, schools, pubs and factories must be brought back into housing use.
The Council say a further 1,200 long-term properties have been brought back into use in the past two years, and that is a more encouraging figure.
However, lessening the pressure to build on green spaces means thousands of these empty properties being brought into use as housing.
While this grant is very welcome, it is to be hoped the Council is talking to HCA about much more substantial grants in the future so thousands rather than 120 homes and other buildings can be refurbished to help meet this housing need.
That really would make a significant impact on the district’s housing target and help reduce the continued concreting over of green spaces.