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More than 1,200 homes sit empty in Ipswich despite UK shortage

PUBLISHED: 12:35 17 June 2018 | UPDATED: 13:22 18 June 2018

Hundreds of homes sit empty in Ipswich despite a national shortage (stock image) Picture: THINKSTOCK

Hundreds of homes sit empty in Ipswich despite a national shortage (stock image) Picture: THINKSTOCK

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More than 1,200 homes remain empty in Ipswich despite a national housing shortage, new figures reveal.

Councillor Neil McDonald, housing portfolio-holder for Ipswich Borough Council  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNCouncillor Neil McDonald, housing portfolio-holder for Ipswich Borough Council Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Data published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show that in October last year, when the most recent count was taken, there are 1,215 vacant homes in Ipswich.

Of those homes, 362 were classed as long-term vacancies meaning they had been unoccupied for at least six months.

But it appears the issue has improved in Ipswich in recent years.

In 2008, when the number of vacant properties reached its highest level nationwide, there were 2,490 empty homes in the area.

Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter said that making sure properties were occupied is part of the answer to solving the country’s housing shortage.

She said: “In the midst of a homelessness crisis it is of course frustrating to see houses left empty.

“But the fact is that even if we filled every one of these, there still wouldn’t be nearly enough homes to solve the problem.

Across England, there were more than 600,000 vacant properties last October, over a third of which were long term vacancies.

Ipswich Borough Council has recently secured £267,234 of Government funding to cut the number of rough sleepers in the town.

Councillor Neil McDonald, housing portfolio-holder for Ipswich Borough Council said it was working with owners to find out why homes sat empty.

“An empty home is a wasted home and cutting the number of long-term empty homes is one of our top priorities.

“We are having increasing success in bringing more back into use through talking to owners to discover the reasons why a house might be empty, offering advice and support and, as a last resort, by using compulsory purchase.

“An empty property can increase crime and anti-social behaviour and cost the owner more through increased council tax, maintenance costs and a loss in potential rental income.

“Residents can help us reduce the number of long-term empty homes still further by reporting them at www.ipswich.gov.uk/report-empty-property”

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EADT writer David Vincent has more than 40 years experience in Suffolk. He has explored the highways and byeways of East Anglia, meeting homeowners, developers and estate agents from Bury St Edmunds to Aldeburgh and Colchester to Diss.

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