Forget Building New Homes Reuse And Recycle

The Government is being urged by a prominent housing group to rethink its recent plans for building millions of new homes simply reuse our old ones.

The National Home Improvement Council (NHIC) has hit out at the Government for ignoring a major untapped resource in the form of existent unused properties.

According to the Government's own housing figures, there are as many as 1 million homes standing empty in the UK. This is four per cent of the nation's total housing stock, the vast majority of which are in sound condition and require simple upgrades such as installing double-glazing and improved insulation to turn them into liveable and desirable properties.

There are also more than 700,000 empty and unused shops, offices, churches and the like, which could readily be converted into first class homes, according to the NHIC.

NHIC Director, Graham Ponting, said: "With yet more figures published on the nation's housing requirement of three million new homes by 2020, it's even more imperative that Government, local authorities, housing associations and developers consider the thousands of empty buildings throughout our towns and cities.

He added: "The vast majority of them are well suited to conversion into attractive, energy efficient, affordable-to-run homes for sale or rent. As they are already part of the local environment the problem of creating new infrastructure doesn't arise, because it already exists. And, of course, the very delicate Green Belt issue does not arise!"

Although the idea appears to be ambitious, Graham Ponting asks the Government to invoke the invisible hand to make the plan a reality, saying: "A reduction in the standard rate of VAT related to home improvement could be a very positive incentive to encourage all homes providers to bring back into use these redundant properties, which would go a long way to resolving our housing requirements."

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