More than double the number of homes in Woodbridge sit empty in Suffolk, figures reveal
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According to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), there were 8,430 vacant homes in Suffolk in October 2018, up from 7,695 the year before - an increase of 9.5%.
By comparison, Woodbridge had 3,792 dwellings recorded in the 2011 census.
In Ipswich, the number rose from 1,215 to 1,343, up 10.5% - while Suffolk Coastal saw an increase of 15% - from 1,459 to 1,678. Waveney had the most vacant homes in the county at 1,579, up from 1,458 - a rise of 8.2%. In Forest Heath, the figure rose from 844 to 957 - increasing 12.2% - while in St Edmundsbury, the figure rose 8.1%, from 975 to 1054. Babergh's empty homes rose from 905 to 911 while Mid Suffolk's went from 957 to 844.
Will McMahon, director of Action on Empty Homes, said the increase was "simply unacceptable".
"Our housing market is not delivering the housing we need," he said.
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Adrian Rawlinson, from Ipswich Housing Action Group (IHAG) said it was "frustrating" to hear there were so many homes unoccupied.
He said: "When there are people who are homeless, knowing there are empty properties is frustrating. "Having empty homes though doesn't mean there are available though and giving someone a home doesn't necessarily sort their problems."
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A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council said the reasons for empty properties were varied, and that the figures did not necessarily show a trend.
He said: "The Council uses a range of measures to support and encourage owners to return properties to use but if this does not work there is a 150% council tax levy and, in the last resort, compulsory purchase."
A spokesman for Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils, said making the best use of existing homes is one of its key objectives and offered support for owners and interest free loans towards the cost of renovating and converting empty buildings.
A West Suffolk Council spokesman said the increase in empty homes is part of a national trend and that there were varied reasons why a home may be empty for a period of time.
Councillor Sara Mildmay-White, West Suffolk Council's cabinet member for housing, said the council looks to support people in bringing homes back into use and can help with cost of repairs
She said: "As a final incentive we would remind owners that properties left unoccupied after two years are subject to a 200% Council Tax charge. Our preference is always that owners work with us where needed, to bring their empty homes back into use and help meet some of the local housing need."
More: Council eyes 400% council tax charge on long-term empty propertiesEast Suffolk Council was unavailable for comment.