BY CALUM FRASER
The number of empty and boarded up homes in Lewisham are an “insult” to struggling families, according to the Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate
A public question from Chris Maines to the council revealed that 939 homes were vacant in the borough and 83 of those homes have remained empty for more than five years.
Mr Maines said: “It is so frustrating for families in urgent need of a home to see properties left empty.
“These long-term empty houses are an insult to people struggling to find a home for their family.
“It is in everybody’s interest that these properties are brought back into use.”
Figures also showed that four homes had been unoccupied for more than 10 years.
Mr Maines said: “We need to make sure the developers are pushed to play a bigger part in solving this crisis.
“I think 50 per cent is the target of affordable housing we need to be pushing for. Lewisham council never get close to that.
“Take the Gateway project as an example. It’s outrageous what they have done there, the developers are doing everything they can to increase the number of profitable units and decrease the number of social housing spaces.
“The whole housing crisis in Lewisham is going to be an issue I will fight on. We need to be much tougher with developers. We need to make sure the developers are pushed to play a bigger part in solving this crisis.”
Councillor Damien Egan, cabinet member for housing, who is also running as the mayoral candidate for the Labour group, said: “No homes should be left empty and we are proactive about cracking down on landlords who flout our rules.
“We charge a 150% per cent council tax premium on empty homes and Lewisham council was one of the first local authorities in the country to serve an Empty Dwelling Management Order, which brings an unoccupied property back into use as housing.
“We are always looking for residents to share intelligence if they see empty properties.
“To tackle London’s housing crisis and give residents a place to live we are building 500 new council homes and 2,000 new affordable homes in Lewisham.
“I support Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to buy 8,000 empty properties in order to house the homeless.
“By giving additional power to Local Authorities and subsequently enabling us to take back those empty properties left deliberately vacant, we would be able to substantially alleviate the ongoing homelessness crisis.”