• New study has found that 605,891 homes were unoccupied last year.
  • Liverpool has the biggest problem with vacant homes, with over 10,000 homes remaining empty in 2017.
  • A third of empty homes throughout the country are empty for longer than six months.

A new study has revealed the shocking extent of England’s empty homes crisis, with more than 600,000 homes remaining vacant.

The study, conducted by Good Move, has found that a third of empty homes are classed as long-term vacant, after being empty for more than six months.

The city of Liverpool takes the crown for the most vacant properties, with a staggering 10,512 properties laying empty last year. The data comes despite efforts by Liverpool City Council to reduce the amount of vacant homes with a free matchmaking service to introduce buyers and sellers of empty homes, in a bid to bring more empty homes into use.

Birmingham follows closely behind, with 10,386 empty homes. The city famous for its Bullring accounts for 17% of West Midlands’ total number of vacant homes.

The Yorkshire city of Leeds has the third highest number of empty homes throughout the country, with 10,263 properties vacant. Leeds’ empty homes equates to 14% of Yorkshire and the Humber’s empty homes.

The North West has the most vacant properties, with 102,847 homes laying empty across the region, and 38% of those being vacant for longer than six months. Liverpool has the most empty homes in the North West, and the country as a whole, with 10,512 vacant properties in 2017.

Following closely behind the North West is the South East, with a staggering 86,693 vacant properties last year. Of the 86,000 empty homes, 29% of those are vacant for longer than six months.

The top five cities with the highest number of empty homes are:

City Number of vacant homes (2017) As a % of all housing
Liverpool 10,512 4.70%
Birmingham 10,386 2.40%
Leeds 10,263 3.00%
Durham 10,026 4.20%
Bradford 8,751 4.10%

England regions by number of vacant homes:

Region Number of vacant homes (2017) As a % of all housing Long-term vacant*
North East 43,617 3.60% 17,106
North West 102,847 3.20% 39,344
Yorkshire & The Humber 73,728 3.10% 27,009
East Midlands 52,562 2.60% 18,553
West Midlands 62,919 2.60% 20,996
East of England 58,831 2.20% 17,983
London 62,366 1.80% 20,237
South East 86,693 2.20% 25,378
South West 62,328 2.50% 18,687

A new £25 million fund has been launched to help local authorities to deliver the high quality, well designed homes that this country needs.

Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma this week announced that the Planning Delivery Fund is now open for bids and will support ambitious local authorities and third sector organisations in areas of high housing need to plan for new homes and infrastructure.

Initially opening up £11 million of the fund, councils will be able to apply to help gain the skills or capacity they need to deliver high quality housing growth at scale, pace and implement wider planning reforms. The fund is aimed at encouraging more innovation in the design quality of new housing developments, as well as provide design advice and support to local authorities.

As part of the government’s plans to raise housing supply to 300,000 per year on average by the mid-2020s, a package of measure has been announced to boost local authority planning capacity, support councils to take a proactive role in planning and encourage ambition and leadership in the delivery of new communities.

Others measures announced along with the £25 million Planning Delivery Fund include:

  • a further £3 million funding to support the delivery of the 14 garden villages that are part of the government’s existing programme
  • publishing a consultation on plans to allow the creation of locally led New Town Development Corporations, and help speed up the delivery of new garden towns

Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma said “Locally-led developments have enormous potential to deliver the scale and quality of housing growth that we need. By supporting our local authorities, we will be able to unlock more homes where people want to live.

“These measures including the £25 million of government support which will help develop new communities that will not only help deliver high-quality well-designed homes, but will also bring new jobs and facilities and a boost to local economies.”

Across England, the government is currently supporting 24 locally-led garden cities, towns and villages, which have the potential to deliver around 220,000 homes.

Backed by £16 million funding, a further £3 million has been allocated to 14 garden villages in the programme to fund dedicated staff and studies and assessments that are vital to the delivery of garden villages that are key to successful delivery.

The government’s housing white paper in February 2017 committed to the creation of New Town Development Corporations, which would be overseen by the local authority or authorities covering the area proposed for a new garden community, rather than by Whitehall. Government is now seeking views on this proposal.

Is it possible to develop around a quarter of a million new homes in London by building apartments above rail lines? The answer is yes, according to a new report published today.

The report, entitled ‘Out of Thin Air’, says there is the potential to provide all the new homes London needs if existing engineering techniques were used to construct apartment blocks directly above rail, Overground and Underground lines.

Research from the report identified all rail tracks in Transport for London’s (TfL) fare zones 1-6 where there were no breaks in the track made by tunnels, roads or bridges and where there was ten metres of available land on both sides. This would allow for the development of 100m² apartments in buildings rising to 12 storeys. If a conservative 10% of this total was delivered it would provide 250,969 new homes.

The London boroughs of Brent, Ealing and Croydon and TfL Zones 2, 3 and 4 provided the most ‘overbuild’ development potential.

Rail lines with development potential:

Available rail lines for development

Number of hectares available by borough:

Available land by borough

Bill Price, WSP director, said “We have to be more creative in using existing space in what remains a relatively low-rise city. The air rights above rail tracks present an unrealised but significant opportunity to build more new homes on brownfield land. It’s important to emphasise the engineering is absolutely possible and not new. We have been working on projects of this nature in New York for decades. Right now in London we are working on a variety of projects that rise above rail lines including a 50-storey residential tower, homes above a new Crossrail station and even a Premier League stadium.”

“There is a wider point about how we can better connect communities and unlock new homes not just above rail lines but adjacent to them as well. In some parts of London rail lines act as accidental segregators. By ‘decking’ over these lines, such as the proposed regeneration west of Earls Court underground station, we can join together sites to unlock an even higher number of new homes and create new vibrant communities.”

The thinking behind the report emerged after Network Rail appointed WSP in 2012 to study the feasibility of building above rail lines. The study’s conclusions, which focused on the type of decking and noise and vibration issues are detailed in the new report. CGI designs are also provided of what rail overbuild might look like if implemented near a major rail terminal in Central London, above a rail line in West London, and above a station in North London.

Out of Thin Air follows a previous WSP report, ‘Building Our Way Out of a Crisis’, which argued that up to 630,000 new homes in London could be found by building apartments above public buildings such as hospitals and schools.

A £2.5 million cash boost to speed up the delivery of over 155,000 new homes across England, has been announced by the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid this month.

Nine locally-led garden town developments, from Bicester to Taunton, will each receive new funding to fast track the build out of these large housing projects.

The new funding will support local authorities and communities in delivering ambitious proposals, speeding up the progress of developments through additional dedicated resources and expertise.

Garden towns being supported by government are committed to delivering high quality, well-planed and well-designed new communities that will stand out as exemplars of good development in years to come.

The funding will support the development of 9 new locally-led garden towns at Bicester, Didcot, Basingstoke, Otterpool Park in Kent, Aylesbury, Taunton, Harlow-Gilston, North Northamptonshire and North Essex.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said “Locally-led garden towns have enormous potential to deliver the homes that communities need. This new funding will help support the construction of more than 155,000 homes in 9 places across the country.

“New communities not only deliver homes, but also bring new jobs and facilities and a big boost to local economies.”

The government’s Housing White Paper sets out bold new plans to ensure the housing market works for everyone, so that more people can have the security of a decent place to live.

Across England, government is supporting the locally-led development of 10 garden towns and cities, as well as 14 garden villages – with the combined potential to deliver 220,000 new homes across England.

Eleven new energy projects worth up to £176m per year have been successful in the latest competitive auction for renewable technologies, the government has announced this week.

The projects, which are set to generate over 3GW of electricity, enough to power 3.6 million homes, demonstrate that the UK continues to be an attractive place to invest in clean energy.

The government is committed to investing in clean technology and driving economic growth as set out in our ambitious Industrial Strategy and upcoming Clean Growth Plan.

The competitive approach is continuing to drive cost reductions in the renewable energy industry – the cost of new offshore wind projects starting to generate electricity from 2022-23 are now 50% lower than the first auction held in 2015. The other successful technologies, Advanced Conversion Technologies and Dedicated Biomass with Combined Heat and Power, also achieved significant savings.

Competition has also driven down the costs for consumers. The capacity delivered in this auction cost up to £528m per year less than it would have in the absence of competition.

Projects are to be delivered across Great Britain from Wales to the Scottish Highlands and the West Midlands from 2021.

Minister for Energy and Industry, Richard Harrington, said “We’ve placed clean growth at the heart of the Industrial Strategy to unlock opportunities across the country, while cutting carbon emissions.

“The offshore wind sector alone will invest £17.5bn in the UK up to 2021 and thousands of new jobs in British businesses will be created by the projects announced. This government will continue to seize these opportunities as the world moves towards a low carbon future, and will set out ambitious proposals in the upcoming Clean Growth Plan.”

This investment will help the UK meet its climate targets while supporting jobs in Britain’s growing renewable industry. The UK has the largest offshore wind capacity in the world and low carbon businesses have a combined turnover of £43 billion, employing 234,000 people.

An independent review into the cost of energy led by Professor Dieter Helm CBE will recommend ways to keep energy prices as low as possible.

The review will consider the whole electricity supply chain – generation, transmission, distribution and supply.

An independent review into the cost of energy led by Professor Dieter Helm CBE will recommend ways to keep energy prices as low as possible as part of the Industrial Strategy, Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark announced today.

Professor Dieter Helm, one of Britain’s leading energy experts, will look specifically at how the energy industry, government and regulators can keep the cost of electricity as low as possible, while ensuring the UK meets its domestic and international climate targets.

This ambitious review builds on the commitment made in the Industrial Strategy green paper and will consider the whole electricity supply chain – generation, transmission, distribution and supply. It will look for opportunities to reduce costs in each element and consider the implications of the changing demand for electricity, including the role of innovative technologies such as electric vehicles, storage, robotics and artificial intelligence.

The ambition is for the UK to have the lowest energy costs in Europe, for both households and businesses.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said “All homes and businesses rely on an affordable and secure energy supply and the government is upgrading our energy system to make it fit for the future. We want to ensure we continue to find the opportunities to keep energy costs as low as possible, while meeting our climate change targets, as part of the Industrial Strategy.

“The review will consider how we can take advantage of changes to our power system and new technologies to ensure clean, secure and affordable supplies over the coming decades. Professor Helm will bring invaluable expertise to the review, and I look forward to seeing his recommendations.

Professor Helm is one of Britain’s leading energy experts, a Professor of Economic Policy at the University of Oxford and a Fellow in Economics at New College Oxford, and a former member of the Council of Science and Technology, advising the UK Prime Minister from 2004 to 2007.

Professor Dieter Helm CBE added “I am delighted to take on this Review. The cost of energy always matters to households and companies, and especially now in these exceptional times, with huge investment requirements to meet the decarbonisation and security challenges ahead over the next decade and beyond. Digitalisation, electric transport and smart and decentralised systems offer great opportunities. It is imperative to do all this efficiently, to minimise the burdens. Making people and companies pay excessively for policy and market inefficiencies risks undermining the objectives themselves.

“My review will be independent and sort out the facts from the myths about the cost of energy, and make recommendations about how to more effectively achieve the overall objectives.”

The government is already taking action, and has asked the regulator to come forward with proposals to extend the price protection currently in place for some vulnerable energy consumers to more people on the poorest value tariffs. This builds on action taken to cap the price for 4 million pre-payment meter customers which came into force on 1 April 2017.

There are also a number of schemes in place to reduce energy bills by improving energy efficiency, such as the Energy Company Obligation which will upgrade 200,000 homes each year and help tackle fuel poverty. For business, the package of relief for energy intensive industries was worth £260 million last year and there are financial incentives to switch to cleaner fuels and processes.

This review will consider the electricity system as a whole and make recommendations on how to deliver affordable energy over the coming decades. It follows the plan set out in July by government and Ofgem for a smarter energy system and the commitment to ensure Britain’s energy costs are as low as possible.

Bovis Homes have announced that they are allocating a further £3.5m to address issues surrounding the build quality of their homes following a series of complaints from tenants.

The housebuilding giants announced in earlier this year that they would slow rate of production in order to focus more on ensuring the homes built are up to scratch.

Complaints soon made the headlines when customers began reporting multiple cases of newly built homes being handed over in an unfinished or unsatisfactory state in a bid to meet high sales targets.

The additional £3.5m will take overall budget for fixing legacy issues to to £10.5m.

In their FTSE 250 statement, the company commented “This further provision will ensure we are fully resourced to complete the works identified as swiftly as possible whilst at the same time delivering the appropriate high level of service to our new customers.

“We are confident that all legacy issues are now identified and that where possible these issues will be fully dealt with and the related costs incurred during this financial year.”

Group CEO, Greg Fitzgerald said the company’s performance in the first half of the financial year was in line with management expectations: “In the past 11 weeks I have spent a good amount of time with each of our operating regions, visited 85 sites and met the vast majority of our people.  We continue to identify and implement operational improvements and I am very confident we can deliver a successful turnaround, returning Bovis Homes to being a leading UK housebuilder.”

The first modular homes to be built by housing association Midland Heart have landed in Coventry.

The four, three-bedroom properties on ‘Modular Mews’ in Foleshill are part of a pilot scheme delivered in partnership with developers Central Site and Coventry City Council.

Work on the scheme started toward the end of 2016 and during one weekend in February all four homes were craned in after being built off-site at a factory in Nuneaton. Construction of the development was completed within six weeks.

Midland Heart’s Director for Development, Chris Miller said “It’s been an incredibly interesting journey as we prepared the site and watched all four homes being built in just a couple of days.

“Modular homes are just one of the options we are exploring to deal with the effects of the housing crisis and are part of our commitment to build 2000 new homes across the Midlands over the next five years.”

The properties have been built to an incredibly high standard of both design and environmental sustainability making them cost-effective to run and maintain.

Each property includes amongst other amenities an externally fitted electric car charging port and walls that can be removed so properties can be easily adapted.

Brian Maunder at Central Site said “It was a pleasure to work with Midland Heart on delivering the first modular homes in Coventry, the first of many.”

Whilst plans were released last year, Apis Cor company have now successfully finished the residential house printing project (built in Stupino town, Moscow region) using mobile 3D printing technology.

In December 2016, the Apis Cor company in cooperation with PIK proceeded to print the building using a mobile 3D printer. Construction took place at the Apis Cor company’s test facility in the town of Stupino, on the territory of the Stupino aerated concrete factory. Printing of self-bearing walls, partitions and building envelope were done in less than a day: pure machine time of printing amounted to 24 hours.

After completing the wall structures, the printer was removed from the building with a crane-manipulator. The overall area area of the printed building is 38 m².

According to their website, construction is based on Apis Cor’s unique 3D printing technology. A distinctive feature of the printer is its design, which is reminiscent of the tower crane, allowing the printer to execute the printing process of constructing the building both inside and outside.

The printer is small in size, easily transportable and does not require long preparation before the commencement of the construction works because it has a built-in automatic horizon alignment and stabilization system.

The printing process itself is automated as much as possible to eliminate the risk of human error.

On the inside the printed house is no different from a conventionally built home — cozy and comfortable. The interior comprises a hall, a bathroom, a living room and a compact functional kitchen.

The construction cost of the printed house amounted to approximately £8100, which is around £220 per square meter. The cost of the building is surprisingly low, considering the unusual design of the building and the premium quality of the materials specified. Even more impressively, this cost also includes all the works that were done to make a complete house – such as work and materials for the construction of foundation, roof, exterior and interior finishing works, installation of heat insulation of walls, windows, floors and ceilings.

Watch the video below:

Home is a vitally important place for everyone. So it is a sad state of affairs to think that at the moment more than 6 million people in the UK will never be able to buy their own home. And with a massive 1.2 million people currently hanging around on housing waiting lists, something must be done.

The UK’s housing crisis is a stark, cold reality for many Britons who simply cannot afford to buy their own home. Since 1996 real house prices have increased by a whopping 151%, while real earnings have only gone up by a quarter of that figure, according to the Redfern Review. And as a result of unaffordable housing, rising prices and sheer lack of adequate accommodation, many families are finding themselves placed in temporary lodging.

So what can be done?

Addressed in the last Autumn Statement, the government plans to invest £3.7bn into building a further 140,000 homes by 2020, in order to ease the housing issue.

However, this is a tall order to achieve within the space of four short years. So how is the government planning to tackle this and meet its promise?

A blast from the past

In order to build the huge quantity of homes targeted by the close of the decade and at the budget set aside, ministers plan to roll out a new wave of prefabs.

As the first prefabs were the solution to the UK’s housing shortage following the devastation of war in the 1940s, a second wave could be the solution to our current crisis. With over 100,000 prefabricated homes planned across the country, it looks like construction is set to go retro.

Unfortunately, prefabricated housing carries negative connotations for some, who associate it with cheap, temporary and ugly. However, modern modular design has developed considerably over the past 70 years and today’s prefab homes are high quality, contemporary and built to last. Prefabs can be posh.

Modern modular buildings have many other enviable benefits over a traditional brick and block build, such as being more energy efficient, eco-friendly and affordable.

Faster construction, reduced cost

With the cost of construction having dramatically increased over the last five years, the building of brick and block homes carries ever increasing expenses. However, as prefabricated buildings are constructed off-site, costs can be more accurately predicted.

A prefabricated house could cost as much as 40% less than the same building built of brick.

Modular homes are also considerably quicker to construct. An off-site build is not only more cost-effective, but much more efficient. A prefabricated building is less susceptible to potential delays, due to bad weather or shortage of labour, and has more chance of meeting deadlines.

Once manufactured, a modular home can be erected on-site in just 24 hours.

And it is the speed from design to completion that is crucial; it is this that will save the government both time and money.

Cost savings are key

But it’s not only the government who needs to make time and cost savings in order to meet tight deadlines and stick to budgets. It is vital for all businesses and organisations, no matter their size, to maintain a healthy bottom line. And finding ways to save time and money in all areas will build a better, stronger business.

So how can your company be more efficient and cost-effective?

There are many things you can do to become more efficient as a business and still make savings. One only needs to think outside the box. For example, by having a tracking system fitted in your company vehicles you will not only reduce your insurance premium and help to deter theft, but you will save money on your fuel bills and reduce repair costs too. With 24-hour GPS monitoring and a system such as Phantom Insight, you can make sure your drivers do not waste fuel or employ bad driving habits that will cause excess wear and tear on parts.