Empty properties in Southend-on-Sea – why are we still building?

Local Authority Total Dwellings  Total Empty % Empty
Tendring 68,087 2,560 3.76%
Southend-on-Sea 79,008 2,676 3.39%
Epping Forest 54,689 1,562 2.86%
Thurrock 64,553 1,805 2.80%
Castle Point 37,633 1,034 2.75%
Braintree 62,477 1,652 2.64%
Uttlesford 33,335 880 2.64%
Colchester 76,269 1,910 2.50%
Rochford 34,664 863 2.49%
Brentwood 32,299 780 2.41%
Basildon 75,487 1,795 2.38%
Maldon 26,998 633 2.34%
Chelmsford 71,611 1,555 2.17%
Harlow 36,003 684 1.90%
753,113 20,389 2.71%

The numbers above are taken from the Empty Homes website and are for 2012. They show the numbers of empty dwellings for all the Essex local authorities. The numbers are self-explanatory, but some further information is also needed to fully understand what is happening.

The regional average is 2.72%, and the national average is 3.06% – Southend-on-Sea comfortably beats both these numbers. Doubtless the development-loving local Tories will see this as vindication of their concretisation policies.

For Southend-on-Sea the ownership of the empty homes is as follows:

147       Local authority

30         Housing associations

2499     Private owners

Of course, 100% occupancy would be impossible. Probate issues and the gaps between lets would account for some of these. However, what is worrying is the number of long-term empty properties. In Southend-on-Sea for 2012 this stood 809 – some 1.02% of the total number of dwellings. (By this measure Southend-on-Sea falls to third in Essex, but is still above average.)

There has been a drop in these numbers, but this is marginal. I think there are some questions that it would be interesting to have answered:

  • Why does Southend-on-Sea have the second highest percentage of empty properties in Essex?
  • Why are we still building new properties when the numbers of empty properties have remained consistently high?
  • Why are we threatening green spaces if we still have over eight hundred long term empty properties?
  • Have we allowed the wrong type of property to be built?
  • What has the local authority done about the numbers of empty properties? It gives the impression that it is content with the situation.
  • We can all see the rise in the numbers of those sleeping rough. Do we take pride in this, because those empty properties could be housing these people?
  • Is the desire by those who make planning decisions to cover every square inch with concrete more important than meeting real housing need?