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Over one thousand empty homes in South Lakeland - Farron calls for action

November 11, 2009 12:00 AM

Local MP Tim Farron has called for action to be taken after he uncovered figures which show the number of empty properties in rural areas like South Lakeland has increased by more than one-fifth in the last 5 years. In South Lakeland, the local council estimate that there are over 1,000 empty properties, while it has 5,000 people on its council house waiting list.

The increase was revealed in answers to questions which Tim has asked in Parliament. The answers show that while the number of empty properties in rural areas remained fairly static from 1997 to 2004, they have increased significantly since then.

Tim said: "This is not just an increase on paper - we can see that it's only too real through examples here in the South Lakes. Recently I've taken on the case of the old ironworks in Backbarrow. The twenty new houses and apartments that have been built there are lying empty after the developer ran into problems. Meanwhile, families in the surrounding area are finding it impossible to find an affordable home amongst some of the highest house prices in the Lake District. I want the council to be given the power to requisition properties like these so that local families can be given a home.

"In his answer, parliamentary under secretary of state Ian Austin MP says that rural local authorities are 'less active in bringing empty homes back into use than urban authorities'. Here in the South Lakes we need all the help we can get to break the affordable homes crisis. The development at Backbarrow is ripe for the local council to take action over, and that's just one example of empty homes that could be being lived in by a local family."